Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More on east vs west and fire

A few days ago I wrote a bit about my experience at a family wedding in SE Kansas and how one part of that illustrated the different attitudes people living east and west of the Great Plains have towards fire.  Today I came across an interesting map assembled by John Nelson of IDV solutions.  The map shows the occurrence of "large" fires in the US since 2001; bigger hotter fires are in yellow, smaller less energetic fires in purple, intermediate fires in red.
Much of the purple appears to be crop residues being burned in the field.  For example, this paper on the use MODIS satellite data identifies the area of SE Missouri and Arkansas bordering the Mississippi River as being largely cropland, planted in wheat and rice, and subject to annual stubble burning over wide areas.  Kansas, North Dakota, and eastern Washington all burn large areas of wheat stubble.

The bright dots, though, are almost certainly big wildfires.  And the overwhelming majority of them occur to the west of the Great Plains.

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