Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Posts Tagged: Max Moritz

UC ANR scientists contribute to California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment

The California Natural Resources Agency released California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment today (Monday, Aug. 27), at http://www.ClimateAssessment.ca.govUC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists contributed substantially to the report.

The Fourth Assessment is broken down into nine technical reports on the following topics:

  • Agriculture 
  • Biodiversity and habitat 
  • Energy 
  • Forests and wildlife 
  • Governance 
  • Ocean and coast 
  • Projects, datasets and tools 
  • Public health 
  • Water 

The technical reports were distilled into nine regional reports and three community reports that support climate action by providing an overview of climate-related risks and adaptation strategies tailored to specific regions and themes.

The regional reports cover:

  • North Coast Region 
  • Sacramento Valley Region 
  • San Francisco Bay Area Region 
  • Sierra Nevada Region 
  • San Joaquin Valley Region 
  • Central Coast Region 
  • Los Angeles Region 
  • Inland South Region 
  • San Diego Region 

The community reports focus on:

  • The ocean and coast 
  • Tribal communities 
  • Climate justice 

All research contributing to the Fourth Assessment was peer-reviewed.

UC Cooperative Extension ecosystem sciences specialist Ted Grantham – who works in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley – is the lead author of the 80-page North Coast Region Report.  Among the public events surrounding the release of the Fourth Assessment is the California Adaptation Forum, Aug. 27-29 in Sacramento. For more information, see http://www.californiaadaptationforum.org/. Grantham is a speaker at the forum.

Other UC ANR authors of the North Coast Region Report are:

  • Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC Cooperative Extension area fire advisor for Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity and Mendocino counties 
  • Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture and plant science advisor in Mendocino and Lake counties 
  • Jeff Stackhouse, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties 
  • Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties

UC Cooperative Extension fire specialist Max Moritz contributed to sections of the main report on Forest Health and Wildfire and to the San Francisco Bay Area Report

UC ANR lead authors of technical reports were:

  • Economic and Environmental Implications of California Crop and Livestock Adaptations to Climate ChangeDaniel Sumner, director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center 

  • Climate-wise Landscape Connectivity: Why, How and What NextAdina Merenlander, UC Cooperative Extension specialist 

  • Visualizing Climate-Related Risks to the Natural Gas System Using Cal-AdaptMaggi Kelly, UC Cooperative Extension specialist 
Dan Stark, staff research associate  for Humboldt and Del Norte counties, contributed to the pest section of Fuel Treatment for Forest Resilience and Climate Mitigation: A Critical Review for Coniferous Forests of California.
Posted on Monday, August 27, 2018 at 3:23 PM
  • Author: Jeannette Warnert
Focus Area Tags: Environment

August 2018 News Clips 8/1-8/15

UC: Tariffs could cost fruit, nut industries over $3 billion

(Farm Press) Aug. 15

A new report released by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center estimates the higher tariffs could cost major U.S. fruit and nut industries $2.64 billion per year in exports to countries imposing the higher tariffs, and as much as $3.34 billion by reducing prices in alternative markets.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/uc-tariffs-could-cost-fruit-nut-industries-over-3-billion

Evacuation priorities: Save people first, then livestock

(Ag Alert) Kathy Coatney, Aug. 15

"It's generally too difficult to get trucks out on such a short notice," said Glenn Nader, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor emeritus for Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties.

… Carissa Koopmann Rivers, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Siskiyou County, said the Klamathon fire, first reported in early July, devastated the town of Hornbrook, which is situated in a cattle-producing area.

…Ricky Satomi, UCCE forestry advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties, said if there's a wildfire and a person has advanced notice, there are several things that can be done to save buildings before evacuating.

http://agalert.com/story/?id=12106

Tariffs Could Cost California Growers Billions

(Growing Produce) Christina Herrick, Aug. 15

new study from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center finds that tariffs on 10 fruit and tree nut exports alone are estimated to cost the U.S. $3.4 billion annually.

https://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/tariffs-cost-california-growers-billions/

Interior Secretary: Environmental policies, poor forest management to blame for wildfires

(Circa) Leandra Bernstein, Aug. 14

…"Together, poor land management, poor land use planning and the onset of climate change, we have created the perfect environment for the perfect firestorm in California. It's completely expected and it's going to get worse," explained Dr. Kate Wilkin, a fire scientist at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

https://www.circa.com/story/2018/08/14/nation/interior-secretary-environmental-policies-poor-forest-management-to-blame-for-wildfires

Looming Chlorpyrifos Ban Has ‘Natural' Pesticide Makers Buzzing

(Bloomberg) Tiffany Stecker, Aug. 14

...Alternatives may be available, but they lack the punch of chlorpyrifos, which kills multiple pests at once, Beth Grafton-Cardwell, a scientist working with citrus farmers as part of the University of California Cooperative Extension, told Bloomberg Environment.

https://www.bna.com/looming-chlorpyrifos-ban-n73014481691/

Fierce and Unpredictable: How Wildfires Became Infernos

(New York Times) Jim Robbins, Aug. 13

…Triple-digit temperatures “preheat the fuels, and it makes them much more receptive to igniting,” said Scott L. Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/science/wildfires-physics.html

In California's new wildfire reality, facing the need for periodic fires to clear fuel

(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Aug. 13

While misguided forest- management policies are just one reason that fire has become more devastating, a warming climate and more development in California's wildlands also contribute, making planned burning vital, said wildfire specialist Max Moritz with UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“We need to become more comfortable with fire as a tool,” he said. “Prescribed fire could do a lot of good, restoring these forests to healthy conditions and reducing the fire hazard.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-s-new-wildfire-reality-2-years-of-13153404.php

8/13/18 Trade Tensions

(NewsTalk 780 KOH) Jon Sanchez Show, Aug. 13

Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agriculture Issues Center, discussed the impact of trade tariffs on agriculture and U.S. economy with Jon Sanchez

https://www.spreaker.com/user/10565136/sanchez0813

UCCE Manure Nitrogen Study Update in Dairy Feed Crops

(California Dairy Magazine) Aug. 10

It takes time for the nitrogen found in dairy manure water to become available to feed crops out in the field, and as dairy producers don't want to under or over fertilize their feed crops, the UC Cooperative Extension is conducting a research trial to find out more regarding how manure water interacts in the soil with plant root systems. Watch this brief interview UC Agronomy Advisor Nicholas Clark as he summarizes a recent presentation he shared at the Golden State Dairy Management Conference.

http://www.californiadairymagazine.com/2018/08/10/ucce-manure-nitrogen-study-update-in-dairy-feed-crops

Trees vital as heat waves ravage Southland, experts and L.A. officials say

 (Hub LA) Hugo Guzman, Aug. 10

…Researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension are helping do just that. In partnership with the United States Forest Service, researchers there have launched a 20-year study to identify trees that can withstand higher temperatures and lower rainfall. Native trees such as the Catalina Cherry and Ironwood trees, along with imports like Ghost Gum and Acacia trees, could form the future of L.A.'s canopy.

http://www.hub-la.com/news/trees-heat-waves-ravage-southland-officials/

Elkus Ranch brings kids to nature

(Half Moon Bay Review) Max Paik, Aug. 8

“I think it's important that the children get to see what it takes to care for farm animals … from the cute to the somewhat smelly,” said Igor Lacan, environmental horticulture adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension, which runs the ranch.

https://www.hmbreview.com/news/elkus-ranch-brings-kids-to-nature/article_623c066a-9b25-11e8-b7bd-5b37951a239e.html

What These Wildfires Say About Climate Change

(OnPoint NPR) Eric Westervelt, Aug. 8

Guests

  • Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire, the state's fire agency.
  • Ryan Lillis, reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered most of Northern California's fires for the last 12 years. (@Ryan_Lillis)
  • Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser with the University of California's Cooperative Extension, which works with counties and communities in the state on managing the threat of wildfires. Northern California coordinator of the California Fire Science Consortium. (@lenyaqd)

Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at

Pennsylvania State University. Co-author of "The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy." (@MichaelEMann)

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/08/08/mendocino-complex-wildfires-california-climate-change

Drought may be increasing camel cricket numbers

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 8

A few years ago, University of California viticulture and pest management advisors noticed unusual leaf symptoms in certain Napa County hillside vineyards that were right next to oak woodlands.

As described by the UC Cooperative Extension's Monica Cooper and Lucia Varela, the feeding activity they noted in April 2015 resulted in a “lace-like” appearance to damaged leaves. Then last year, in March, they observed feeding damage to expanding buds.

… Where vineyards have come into play is when they were situated on hillsides next to oak woodlands and mixed species of white alders, madrone, California bay, and Douglas fir, according to Varela, a north coast integrated pest management advisor, and Rhonda Smith, a UCCE viticulture advisor.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/drought-may-be-increasing-camel-cricket-numbers

Yes, humans have made wildfires like the Carr fire worse. Here's how.

(Washington Post) Sarah Kaplan, Aug. 8

…Many forests in the western United States are “fire adapted” said Scott Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley. Natural wildfires every 5, 10 or 20 years help clear debris from the forest floor and make room for stronger, healthier trees.

…Wildfires are as unstoppable as hurricanes, Stephens said — and much like hurricanes, increasingly inevitable as the climate changes. “But you could do a lot more when you're getting ready for fire to inevitably occur,” he said. By building with fire-safe materials, establishing buffer zones between ecosystems and communities, and better caring for forests before fire season starts, some of the destructiveness of fires could be mitigated, Stephens said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/amp-stories/humans-have-made-wildfires-worse-heres-how/

The staggering scale of California's wildfires

(New York Times) Lisa Friedman, Jose A. Del Real, Aug. 8

…Lisa: Mr. Trump in his tweet referred to the longstanding dispute between California farmers and environmentalists over the allocation of the state's precious water resources. Both sides want more and Mr. Trump has embraced the arguments of the agriculture community.

But William Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley said leaving less water for fish would have no impact on amount available for fighting fires. That water comes from local streams and rivers, where water-dropping helicopters drop their buckets. Neither he nor other scientists could point to a scenario in which California's environmental laws have prevented or curbed the use of water to fight wildfires.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/us/california-today-fires-and-climate.html

California giving out $170 million in cap-and-trade revenue to help prevent wildfires

(San Francisco Chronicle) Kimberly Veklerov, Aug. 8

…Groups in six Bay Area counties will get a combined $7.4 million. The biggest portion of that, $3.6 million, will go to UC Berkeley. The Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2016 withdrew what would have been an award of roughly the same amount to thin and remove eucalyptus trees in the East Bay hills after a lawsuit by conservation activists.

…Keith Gilless, chairman of Cal Fire, said the state needs to do much more vegetation management — activities like reducing hazardous plant fuels — to address wildfire risk.

“One of the things we need in California moving forward is striking a better balance between carbon sequestration in forests and the risk associated with that densely stocked carbon sequestration,” said Gilless, also a UC Berkeley professor of forest economics. “We need to figure out ways to do vegetation management that are socially acceptable with the smallest public subsidy possible.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-doles-out-170-million-in-13139050.php

These California counties have the highest concentration of homes vulnerable to wildfire

(Sac Bee) Michael Finch II, Aug. 7

In the case of the northern counties, the risk will be higher because homes there often dispersed at the edge of a wildland area, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a Eureka-based fire advisor for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Those areas that you mentioned are areas that have a lot of homes mixed into the wildland-urban interface — areas where there are a lot of homes that are edgy and in the forest and have a lot of fuel.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article216076320.html#storylink=cpy

Can More Logging Help Prevent California Wildfires?

(KQED) Forum, Aug. 7

Cal Fire officials announced yesterday that the Mendocino Complex fire grew to over 283,000 acres, making it the largest in state history. As wildfires across the state rage on, Governor Brown and some lawmakers are calling for increased forest thinning to lessen the threat posed by fires. Those in favor of logging say that removing trees and vegetation can help reduce a fire's intensity and make forests more resilient. Opponents say thinning does nothing to protect communities from fires and imperils species that depend on dense forests. We'll take up the debate.

Guests:

Chad Hanson, director, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute ; co-author, "Nature's Phoenix: The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires"

Molly Peterson, reporter on assignment for KQED News

Scott Stephens, professor of fire science at the College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Rich Gordon, president and CEO, California Forestry Association, former assemblymember representing California's 21st district

Jim Wood, assemblymember for district 2, Sonoma County, a member of the Senate and Assembly conference committee on wildfire preparedness and response

https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101866607/can-more-logging-help-prevent-california-wildfires

Trump wants to clear more trees to halt fires. The feds need to spend more, experts say.

(Sac Bee) Emily Cadei and Kate Irby, Aug. 7

“I think for a number of years the feds were more ahead of this dilemma, at least in discussions,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. But “I have to say right now, I think the state is moving ahead. It's certainly being more innovative, it's doing more policy work.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216160995.html

Trump says California's water policies are making the wildfires worse. Is he right?

(Sac Bee) Dale Kasler, Aug. 6

William Stewart, a forestry management expert at UC Cooperative Extension, agreed. “The entity that's doing the worst job are the people working for him,” Stewart said, referring to Trump.

Stewart said the Carr Fire, which killed seven people and forced mass evacuations in and around Redding, started in shrub and grasslands west of the city, not in the forests. Only lately, after the threat to Redding abated, has the fire moved north onto Forest Service land and forested property owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, he said.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216181625.html

California Groundwater Law Means Big Changes Above Ground, Too

(Water Deeply) Matt Weiser, Aug. 6

The best groundwater recharge areas have certain soil types that are good at absorbing water. These areas have already been mapped by, among others, the California Soil Resource Lab at the University of California, Davis. [Tobi o'Geen's lab]

https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2018/08/06/california-groundwater-law-means-big-changes-above-ground-too

Cal Fire responds to President Trump's tweet about state wildfires

(ABC7) Rob McMillan, Aug. 6

Cal Fire and a researcher from UC Riverside responded to Donald Trump's tweet related to the state's wildfires on Monday.

"Thinning would be a good idea, but the question is how you thin properly," UC Riverside's Dr. Richard Minnich said.

"There are too many trees in the ground sucking the ground dry. That's one of the reasons you had so many trees die in the Sierras."
But Minnich says that there is plenty of water in California. Shasta is the biggest reservoir in the state and it's currently more than two-thirds full.

https://abc7.com/politics/cal-fire-responds-to-president-trumps-tweet-/3896820/

California Wildfires: It's a people problem

(East Bay Times) Lisa Krieger, Aug. 5

Even as fires rage across California, thousands of new homes are being built deeper into our flammable foothills and forests, as lethal as they are lovely.

A big reason why: It's harder to do controlled burns — one of the most effective fire suppression techniques — near residential areas, due to smoke concerns. Until the 1970's, fire suppression tended to minimize fire spread.

“If homes are sprinkled through the landscape, you take that key tool off the table,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with UC's Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/08/05/california-wildfires-its-a-people-problem/

Report: Future climate could affect street trees

(Turlock Journal) Kristina Hacker, Aug. 3

Eighty-one years from now, Turlock's climate could resemble more of southeast California's high desert areas, according to a new report that says inland California municipalities should consider increasing temperatures due to climate change when planting street trees.

…"Urban foresters in inland cities of California should begin reconsidering their palettes of common street trees to prepare for warmer conditions expected in 2099 due to climate change," said the study's co-author, Igor Lacan, UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor in the Bay Area.

https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/local/report-future-climate-could-affect-street-trees/

Wildfires force California to reckon with a not-so-new normal

(Christian Science Monitor) Martin Kuz, Aug. 3

…The committee's focus on improving utility grid safety and examining the liability of power companies reflects the causes of several blazes in 2017. The absence of land use planning from its agenda suggests what Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, describes as a “political will problem.”

“If you want to keep communities safe, then you have to think about living differently, about where and how we build our communities,” he says. “But there's no bill in the legislature about that.”

https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0803/Wildfires-force-California-to-reckon-with-a-not-so-new-normal

Will smoke taint summer harvests in the Mother Lode?

(The Union Democrat) Giuseppe Ricapito, Aug. 3

Drift smoke from the Ferguson Fire has some Tuolumne County vintners and agriculturalists concerned about the commercial viability of the early fall grape harvest, but one forestry official with the University of California noted that the native wilderness of the Mother Lode has a developed adaptability to smoky conditions.

Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor with the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Central Sierra Cooperative Extension, said that “smoke taint” of commercial agriculture was always a concern during fire season.

“It's grapes we worry about the most,” she said. “In the past there have been bad years when there was a lot of smoke where grapes were on the vine and wineries had to produce the smoky wine because of that effect.”

https://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/6425094-151/will-smoke-taint-summer-harvests-in-the-mother

Coyote encounters expected to rise during heat and drought

(ABC 10) Jared Aarons, Allison Horn, Aug. 2

The record-breaking heat and drought are forcing animals, including coyotes, out of their natural habitats and closer to humans…

The University of California Coyote Catcher website tracks sightings and attacks. Their figures for 2018 show coyote incidents are down compared to last year. In 2017, there were 142 coyote attacks. More than halfway through 2018, San Diego is on track to stay below that number, with 64 attacks.

According to the website, there have been six reported pet deaths this year.

https://www.10news.com/news/coyote-encounters-expected-to-rise-during-heat-and-drought

Backyard chickens are dying in droves in SoCal. Will disease spread to Valley?

(Fresno Bee) Robert Rodriguez, Aug. 2

Maurice Pitesky, a veterinarian and University of California extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, said backyard chicken owners should closely watch their flocks.

Symptoms include, sneezing, coughing, green watery diarrhea, neck twisting, paralysis, decreased egg production and swelling around the eyes and neck.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/agriculture/article215859875.html

Growers prepare for smaller prune harvest

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug 2

…With guidance from University of California Cooperative Extension advisors, growers have been paying close attention to tree water stress and sugar levels in the weeks leading up to the harvest, which was expected to begin in about the third week of August.

… “It's probably going to vary a little bit because the cropping is really variable,” UCCE advisor emeritus Rick Buchner says of the prune crop. “Some of it is good and some is really light. We had a heck of a time pollinating them.”

…“Harvest can be a nerve-wracking time in the prune business,” UCCE advisors Franz Niederholzer and Wilbur Reil note in a California Dried Plum Board blog post. “The finish line – when the entire crop is in the bins – may be in sight, but here are still tough decisions to be made that influence your bottom line.”

…In general, harvest can be expected roughly 30 days after the first healthy fruit in an orchard starts changing color, UCCE orchard advisor Katherine Jarvis-Shean explains in a separate blog post. She urged growers to time their irrigation cut-off to improve dry-away ratios, reduce premature fruit drop and decrease shaker bark damage at harvest.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/orchard-crops/growers-prepare-smaller-prune-harvest

Researchers look at ways to improve onion yields

(Ag Alert) Padma Nagappan, Aug. 1

Jairo Diaz-Ramirez and five other scientists have recently completed year two of an irrigation trial for onions, testing furrow and drip irrigation, and found that their methods produced good results, without water distress or soil tension. They tested the Taipan variety of onions.

http://agalert.com/story/Default.aspx?id=12068

More sensible land use planning can help prevent wildfire losses

Climate change is only partly fueling the catastrophic fires in California. Fire scientists also lay blame on the tendency of land use planners to allow the construction of houses and businesses in areas where wildfires are a natural part of the ecosystem.

Last week Gov. Brown forecast a rise in the number, intensity, and cost of fires, warning of “the new normal that we will have to face," reported Martin Kuz in the Christian Science Monitor.

Wildfire experts say its not a new normal but has become normal because lawmakers have avoided prodding local officials, developers, and residents toward an approach to land use planning that restricts housing growth in fire-prone areas.

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Max Moritz
“If you want to keep communities safe, then you have to think about living differently, about where and how we build our communities,” said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Max Moritz. “But there's no bill in the legislature about that.”

Tomorrow's tinderboxes can be seen all over the Bay Area — from the new multi-million dollar dream homes packed along the edges of San Jose's Almaden Quicksilver County Park and Mount Diablo State Park to older residences, both modest and opulent, on peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Oakland and Berkeley hills, reported Lisa Krieger of the Bay Area News Group. Similar growth is taking place in natural areas in other parts of the state, including the Sierra Nevada and Southern California.

An analysis by geographer Stephen Strader of Villanova University, published this spring in the journal Natural Hazards, found a 1,000 percent increase in the number of western U.S. homes at risk from wildfire over the past 70 years — from about 607,000 in 1940 to 6.7 million in 2010.

Housing near wildlands makes it harder to do controlled burns — one of the most effective fire suppression techniques — because of smoke concerns. Until the 1970s, fire suppression tended to minimize fire spread.

“If homes are sprinkled through the landscape, you take that key tool off the table,” Moritz said.

And as people develop rural areas, they're also more likely to ignite fires. In early California history, lightning was the major cause of wildfires. Now humans are the dominant cause of fires, from downed power lines, smoking, sparks from equipment and more.

“Now is the time to do smarter, stronger land use planning,” Moritz said, “so our future communities are not as vulnerable.”.

For more information, see Moritz' Fire Regimes and Ecosystems Management website. https://nature.berkeley.edu/moritzlab/.

The Carr Fire lights up the sky in Shasta County on July 28, 2018. (Photo: CalFire)
Posted on Monday, August 6, 2018 at 11:36 AM
Tags: Max Moritz (25), widlfire (1)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Is climate change chasing away 'June Gloom'?

Low-lying morning clouds in Southern California coastal areas form the predictable "June Gloom" in early summer - at least, they used to. The combination of urbanization and a warming climate are driving up summer temperatures, reducing cloud cover and increasing the risk of bigger and more intense wildfires, reported Julie Cohen of UC Santa Barbara's The Current.

UC Cooperative Extension specialist Max Moritz, UC Santa Barbara geography professor Dar Roberts and colleagues published the study results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The scientists compared hourly cloud observations recorded by Southern California airports since the 1970s with a large database of vegetation moisture levels in the hills outside of Los Angeles. They found that periods of less cloud cover during the summer correlated with lower vegetation moisture and increased fire danger. 

“Because fires can already be very difficult to control in these areas, a reduction in cloud cover and its effects on fuel moisture is likely to increase fire activity overall,” Moritz said. “In areas where clouds have decreased, fires could get larger and harder to contain.”

Conditions vary year to year, but Moritz said he expects fire danger to increase in California as climate change accelerates.

Early summer cloud cover at Seal Beach in June 2013. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
 
Lead author of the research is A. Park Williams. In addition to Moritz and Roberts, Pierre Gentine and John T. Abatzoglou are co-authors.
 
 
Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 3:17 PM
Tags: climate change (11), Max Moritz (25)
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

Precipitation and wildfire impacted by climate change

A new study out of UC Riverside projects an increase in rain and snow in California due to climate change, reported Matt Smith on Seeker.com. Anthropogenic impacts on climate are expected to produce a chronic El Niño-like weather pattern off the Pacific coast of the U.S., leading to about 12 percent more rain and snow by 2100.

The study used a newer computer model and relied on other models that have a better record of simulating precipitation and the effects of an El Niño on the state. El Niño, the cyclical warming of the Pacific Ocean near Earth's equator, typically produces warmer temperatures across much of the United States and more rainfall over California.

More rain and fire predicted for California due to climate change.

Meanwhile, an article by Joshua Emerson Smith in the San Diego Union-Tribune presented less-welcome climate change news. It concluded that wildfires are expected to get longer and more intense in California due to climate change.

“We will need some very new approaches to deal with both the increasing hazard of fire and our increasing exposure to it,” said Max Moritz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in fire ecology and management at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources. “The situation we have created is dangerous, and without a major shift in perspective it will only get worse.”

There are ways to limit the ignition of the wildfires. The article said about 95 percent of all wildfires are caused by people, so it's important to be aware of fire-safe practices pertaining to home maintenance, campfires, target shooting, vehicle use and other outdoor activities. 

Here are a few examples of fire-safe best practices:

  • Mow lawns in the morning before it gets too hot. Never mow when it is windy or extremely dry. Avoid rocks when mowing; metal blades can cause sparks when they hit rocks.
  • Don't drive a vehicle on dry grass or brush. Don't allow vehicle brakes to wear thin, as thin brakes can cause sparks. Carry a fire extinguisher in the car.
  • Maintain 100 feet of defensible space around homes in fire-prone areas. UC ANR experts recommend a five-foot zone immediately adjacent to the home be completely devoid of plants and anything combustible.

 

Posted on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 10:16 AM
Tags: climate change (11), Max Moritz (25), rain (1), wildfire (17)

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