Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/10/2013 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Climate conditions, and not deforestation, seen as most important factor for fire risk in region

There's an insidious, not readily visible threat stalking the Amazon rain forests. "Understory" fires that have previously been hidden from view are now seen on NASA satellites. Scientists say that this type of wildfire in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for destroying several times more forest that has been lost through deforestation in recent years.

Understory fires can damage large areas because Amazon trees are not adapted to fire. Long, slow burn gives way to a creeping death that claims anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the burn area's trees.

Understory fires can damage large areas because Amazon trees are not adapted to fire. Long, slow burn gives way to a creeping death that claims anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the burn area's trees.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/10/2013 (10 months ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Amazon, rain forerst, understory fires, NASA


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Fires below the forest treetops have previously been hidden from view from NASA satellites that detect actively burning fires.

"Amazon forests are quite vulnerable to fire, given the frequency of ignitions for deforestation and land management at the forest frontier, but we've never known the regional extent or frequency of these understory fires," Doug Morton of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the study's lead author says. The study was published April 22 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Previous understory fire activity, such as the ones that occurred in 2005, 2007 and 2010 was several times greater than the area of deforestation for expansion of agriculture. Morton says the study goes further and assigns blame to climate conditions - in lieu of the long-believed culprit, deforestation - as the most important factor in determining fire risk in the Amazon.

Fires in the Amazon's savanna areas can burn quickly, spreading up to 330 feet per minute. Grasses and shrubs in these ecosystems typically survive low-intensity surface fires.

Understory fires at the frontier and beyond appear "unremarkable when you see them burning," Morton says. Flames reach on average only a few feet high, visible from the air as ribbons of smoke that escape through the canopy and may burn for weeks at a time.

Understory fires can damage large areas because Amazon trees are not adapted to fire. Long, slow burn gives way to a creeping death that claims anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the burn area's trees. Recovery is also a long and slow, but observable, process.

In order to identify understory fires, Morton and his colleagues used observations from early in the dry season, from June to August. They tracked the timing of fire damage and recovery, which varies depending on the type of forest disturbance.

Areas of deforestation show up in satellite imagery as land that continues to lack signs of recovery for at least two consecutive years. Signs of forest degradation from understory fires, visible in the year after the burn, vanish quickly as the forest replenishes. This pattern of damage and recovery over multiple years provides a fingerprint of understory fire damages in Amazon forests.

Between 1999 and 2010, understory forest fires burned more than 33,000 square miles, or 2.8 percent of the forest. Results also show no correlation between understory fires and deforestation. As the pressure for clearing led to the highest deforestation rates ever seen from 2003 to 2004, adjacent forests had some of the lowest rates of fires.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More Green

What a difference a millennia makes! Antarctic was at one time like coastal California Watch

Image of It's amazing what a millennia - or two can make on real estate. Two new studies claim that the chilly expanses of Antarctica were at one time very much like coastal California today!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's amazing what a millennia - or two can make on real estate. Two new studies claim that the chilly expanses of Antarctica were at one time very much like coastal California today! The two new studies are helping scientists determine the effects of long-term ... continue reading


BIOLOGICAL WARFARE? Smog from India, China winds way to U.S., Canada Watch

Image of The smog in Asia, it must be noted is caused by more than just the burning of fossil fuels - it's comprised of nitrogen oxides, methane and other volatile organic compounds that combine to produce ozone.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ripples in the global pond, half a world away, can have effects all over the globe. Researchers at Texas A&M now say that air pollution originating in both India and China, almost certainly affects global weather patterns, particularly in the United States and ... continue reading


MONSTER El Nino forming in South Pacific, will being devastating weather around the globe in 2014-2015 Watch

Image of We may see a sharp increase in severe weather events for 2014-2015.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to scientists, a massive El Nino is forming in the Pacific and it may be the largest such El Nino ever recorded. If true then the entire planet may experience an uptick in extreme weather events with serious consequences for life and property around the ... continue reading


World must turn to wind and solar to combat global warming, report says Watch

Image of Scientists are optimistic that if renewable energy is quickly rolled out, homes are built in a more sustainable and energy efficient way, and human consumption and wastefulness is changed, climate change can be controlled.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The world must turn to the wind or sun for its energy needs -- or face catastrophic consequences wrought by climate change. That's the news from a recent report from the United Nations on global warming. These devastating effects could take place as early as 15 ... continue reading


Former Indonesian tropical paradise reduced to garbage dump Watch

Image of The water at times turns red, green, yellow and black because of the high concentration of dyes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As people in China's most air polluted cities cheerfully don face masks, a fisherman on Indonesia's Citarum River has blankly accepted his polluted fate. Once searching for fish, Herman, the name of the fisherman proffered to news reporters says he now looks ... continue reading


THIRD Oarfish sighting in Sea of Cortez stokes earthquake fears Watch

Image of A tour guide lies beside a beached oarfish specimen on the Isla San Francisco in Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An oarfish has been found washed on an island beach in Mexico, leading to speculation if it is one of the two previously sighted and filmed last month, or if it is in fact a third specimen. If it is a third, it could fuel rumors of an earthquake since anecdotal ... continue reading


Japanese island consumes another in unusual volcanic activity Watch

Image of Two volcanic craters are shown on Niijima on November 22. The island emerged about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Islands, also known as the Bonin Islands.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a spate of highly unusual volcanic activity, one Japanese island has merged with another nearby island. Niijima Island, a volcano which broke through the ocean's surface last November, has now merged with a nearby island that formed from a volcano which last ... continue reading


Are these oarfish in Mexico predicting an earthquake? Tourists film TWO live oarfish trying to beach themselves Watch

Image of Oarfish are legendary harbingers of earthquakes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amazing new video shows two oarfish swimming just offshore in Mexico to the delight of ecotourists on a kayaking tour. The video, taken last March, shows the pair of fish possibly about to beach themselves. Oarfish are rarely sighted and legend associates their ... continue reading


MASS EXTINCTION: All life on Earth went extinct 252 million years ago Watch

Image of The Permian-Triassic extinction has been defined as a natural event that heated up the Earth's biological systems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Nearly all life on Earth became extinct 252 million years ago. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT scientists, the culprit was not an asteroid striking the planet, but a methane-spewing microbe. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Daniel ... continue reading


Bison, elk appear to be fleeing Yellowstone. Is supervolcano eruption eminent? Watch

Image of A supervolcano under Yellowstone could cause mass extinctions if it erupted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Talk of a supervolcano eruption in Yellowstone National Park has hit the blogosphere after several people have posted videos of animals fleeing the sanctuary. A supervolcano eruption would destroy everything for hundreds of miles around and would plunge the planet into ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:11-26
11 Everyone came running towards them in great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
2 even through the mouths of children, or of babes in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
35 Then they told their story of what had happened on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2014 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter