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Posted Wed Sep 15 2010: from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
NASA satellites reveal surprising connection between beetle attacks, wildfire
While it may look like autumn has come early to the mountains, evergreen trees don't change color with the seasons. The red trees are dying, the result of attacks by mountain pine beetles. Mountain pine beetles are native to western forests, and they have evolved with the trees they infest, such as lodgepole pine and whitebark pine trees. However, in the last decade, warmer temperatures have caused pine beetle numbers to skyrocket.... The idea that beetle damaged trees increase fire risks seems a logical assumption - dead trees appear dry and flammable, whereas green foliage looks more moist and less likely to catch fire.... Their preliminary analysis indicates that large fires do not appear to occur more often or with greater severity in forest tracts with beetle damage.... green needles... contain high levels very flammable volatile oils.... wildfires are less likely to ignite and carry in a forest of dead tree trunks and low needle litter.
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