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Local Winds Play Key Role in Some Megafires

25 July 2018

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Although drought and overgrown forests are often blamed for major fires in the western United States, new research using unique NASA before-and-after data from a megafire site indicates that highly localized winds sometimes play a much larger role -- creating large, destructive fires even when regional winds are weak.

The study was led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. It focused on the 2014 King Fire, using data from airborne instruments managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, with advanced computer simulations from NCAR. The King Fire occurred in the Sierra Nevada mountain range during California's severe multi-year drought and burned more than 97,000 acres (39,000 hectares).

Source: NASA

Image credit: USFS - The 2014 King Fire.

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