Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/10/2013 (1 year 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.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/10/2013 (1 year 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 October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Green

Dinosaur with freakishly big arms even more amazing than believed Watch

Image of The creature's name, Deinocheirus mirificus means unusual, horrible hands.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Paleontologists had long been mystified by the dinosaur known as "deinocheirus mirificus." Since the 1960s, only the huge arms of the prehistoric thunder lizard had been discovered. As more bits and pieces of the dinosaur have been brought to light, it appears ... continue reading


Antarctic ice reaches record level, but is global warming to blame? Watch

Image of Ice is expanding, but scientists warn it is a sign of global warming.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Antarctic ice sheets have spread farther than any other time in modern, recorded history, according to scientists monitoring their spread. Scientists are unsure of exactly why the sheets are growing but that global warming likely has a role. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Where's the global warming? Tempratures remain flat Watch

Image of Global warming? Really Mr. Connolly?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to climate change skeptics, the Earth's temperature has "plateaued" and global warming has taken a hiatus. Virtually all records seem to agree with this assessment, so what gives? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Is the sky falling or not? From the looks ... continue reading


Holy Bat Cave Batman: Miao Room cavern in China, world's largest could accommodate jumbo jet Watch

Image of The cave would comfortably fit a Boeing 747, if you could get one in there - and is located about 325 feet underground. The cave also contains stalagmites as tall as 148 feet, which are among the world's biggest.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The huge Miao Room cavern have been declared by a wide margin as the world's largest cave. Measuring 380.7 million cubic feet in volume, the cave achieved recognitions as the world's largest thanks to British explorers. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Stanford scientists link California drought to global warming, NASA says 'not so fast' Watch

Image of California's farmers are asking people to pray for rain.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Stanford scientists say they have linked California's epic drought to global warming, although NASA scientists say they disagree. Regardless, the Golden State faces the most intense drought in recorded history with vast impacts on the state's residents. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Half the world's animals went extinct over past 40 years Watch

Image of Northern lapwings, pictured, an once-familiar sight on British farmlands have fallen 60 percent and grey partridges have halved in number.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The news for the Animal Kingdom is uniformly grim: Half of the world's animals went extinct over the past 40 years, all of it due to the fault of humanity. D4estruction of habitat, unlawful hunting and the destruction of the environment has sent countless ... continue reading


A new weapon in the war against Climate Change. How moderates and radicals are joining forces Watch

Image of More militant environmentalism is being fazed out as radicals and moderates band together and turn to civil disobedience as an effective weapon.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New York saw the largest climate-related march ever, where hundreds of thousands participated before the United Nations held a summit on climate change. The next day, hundreds were arrested in Manhattan as part of a demonstration against Wall Street, which blames ... continue reading


New hope for Monarch butterfly migration: butterflies seen entering Mexico Watch

Image of Butterflies have been sighted in the northern border state of Coahuila. This is slightly earlier than their usual arrival time when they come back in October from the United States and Canada, where they spend the summer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Much dismay surrounded the scarcity of Monarch butterflies last year. The colorful black-and-orange creatures had dropped to their lowest level in 2013. There is new hope, Monarch butterflies have been seen entering Mexico earlier than usual, which foretells ... continue reading


Mystery video: Remains of an ancient lizard - or just a rock? Watch

Image of Several professors and experts in paleontology have expressed their skepticism that the find is genuine, and say it might be a hoax.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Experts are still unable to identify exactly what the mystery crocodile-style object found buried in a Siberian river after a week of speculation. Fishermen supposedly bumped into the head of the "rock" last week. It has been confirmed by scientists to be the ... continue reading


Greenhouse gas emissions predicted to hit historic highs Watch

Image of Smog in China, a nation which produces more than 10 billion tons of greenhouse gas, more than that of the U.S. and Europe combined.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recently released study shows that greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil-fuel fuels and cement production will reach a record high this year, fueled primarily by rapid growth in Chinese industries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Global ... 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, Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 24th, 2014 Image

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in ... 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