Wildfire

Severe drought has contributed to the state’s historic wildfire season and threatened some of its most famous trees.

California Firefighters Race to Protect Giant Sequoia Trees

Officials say the historically significant trees were thankfully unscathed by recent blazes

New research suggests that clouds affected by wildfire smoke hold more water droplets but are tiny and less likely drop as rain.

Smoky Clouds That Form Over Wildfires Produce Less Rain

Particles from the smoke create tiny droplets too small to fall to Earth

In recent years, summer temperatures in Russia have seen numbers in the triple digits despite being one of the coldest places on Earth.

More Than 40 Million Acres of Land Have Burned in Siberia

Russia has seen an increasing severity of wildfires in recent years due to rising summer temperatures and a historic drought

In this long exposure picture, trees burn on a hillside behind Honey Lake campground during the Dixie Fire on August 18, 2021 in Milford, California. The wildfire in Northern California continues to grow, burning over 626,000 acres according to CalFire.

Innovation for Good

From Supercomputers to Fire-Starting Drones, These Tools Help Fight Wildfires

As climate change worsens wildfires in the West, agencies are tapping into new technologies to keep up with the flames

Fixed up to look like "Dusty," the Disney animated aircraft that had high-flying aspirations, the Air Tractor AT-301/400A became a hit at air-shows following the success of the first film and its 2014 sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue.

Disney's Dusty Crophopper—the Little Airplane that Could—Comes to the Smithsonian

Iconic Air Tractor aircraft on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center this Saturday

Smoke from nearby wildfires turned the sky above San Francisco a dark orange color last September.

Wildfire Smoke Linked to Covid-19 Cases and Deaths in the West

Thousands of coronavirus cases and hundreds of deaths may be attributable to the particulate matter in wildfire smoke

A man in Seattle wears a mask as wildfire smoke descends on the city in September of 2020.

Covid-19

Four Ways to Protect Yourself From Harmful Air Pollution Caused by Wildfires

Awareness about exposure, high-quality masks and air filters can help protect you from dangerous pollutants in smoke

The Parthenon, the temple that sits atop Athens' Acropolis, seen surrounded by smoke on August 4

Ancient Olympics' Birthplace Saved as Fires Rage Across Southern Europe

A massive heatwave sparked blazes along the Mediterranean, threatening cultural heritage sites and forcing mass evacuations

Carolyn Smith collecting beargrass in Klamath National Forest, 2015. For beargrass to be supple enough for weavers to use in their baskets, it needs to be burned annually. Ideally, it is burned in an intentionally set cultural fire, where only the tops are burned, leaving the roots intact. Prescribed fires in the Klamath National Forest are few and far between, so weavers “follow the smoke” and gather, when they can, after wildfires sweep through the landscape.

Smithsonian Voices

How Indigenous Ecological Knowledge Offers Solutions to California's Wildfires

“We need to reintegrate Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and cultural and prescribed burning into our landscape,” Carolyn Smith says

The billowing smoke resulted from nearly 300 wildfires currently ravaging British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost providence, and 80 fires blazing through states in the Western United States.

Plumes of Smoke From Fires in the North American West Stretch Across the Continent

Particle pollution is affecting air quality in cities thousands of miles away

“Not much in my life in the natural world has made me cry, but this did,” Nate Stephenson, an ecologist at the USGS who has been studying sequoias for 40 years, tells the Chronicle. “It hit me like a ton of bricks.”

Fire Destroyed 10 Percent of World's Giant Sequoias Last Year—Can They Survive Climate Change?

A new draft report suggests between 7,500 and 10,600 of the massive trees were killed by wildfire in 2020

The California condor was included on the first list of endangered species published by the federal government.

Planet Positive

After Last Year's Deadly Fires, the California Condor Soars Once Again

A colossus of the sky, the bird of prey was nearly gone when biologists rescued it from extinction. Then came a terrible new challenge

Via Getty: "Trees burned by the recent Bear Fire line the steep banks of Lake Oroville where water levels are low on April 27, 2021 in Oroville, California."

California's Fire Season May Be Starting Early This Year

The state issued a 'red flag' fire warning on May 2, the first one issued in May since 2014, during a stretch of abnormally hot, dry and windy weather

Great white sharks travel hundreds of miles to specific locations in the world’s oceans.

New Evidence Suggests Sharks Use Earth's Magnetic Field to Navigate

Bonnethead sharks swam in the direction of their home waters when placed in a tank charged with an electromagnetic field

Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze at the University of Cape Town's Jagger Reading Room on April 18.

Why the Cape Town Fire Is a Devastating Loss for South African Cultural Heritage

The inferno destroyed much of the University of Cape Town's special collections, including rare books, films, photographs and records

Smoke rises from a wildfire in the summer of 2019 near Talkeetna, Alaska.

New Research

New-Growth Alaskan Forests May Store More Carbon After Wildfires

Researchers find forests are regrowing with more deciduous trees, which are more resistant to burning and may eventually store 160 percent more carbon

A lightning-caused wildfire in 2013 creates white smoke rising from the tundra in front of the Baird Mountains.

New Research

Climate Change Linked to Increase in Arctic Lightning Strikes

A warming climate makes Arctic lightning possible, and resulting wildfires release immense amounts of carbon from the permafrost

Women broke the glass ceiling of fire lookout positions almost as soon as the job was established.

Women Who Shaped History

Female Fire Lookouts Have Been Saving the Wilderness for Over a Century

Spotting smoke from towers on high peaks could have been deemed 'man's work,' but a few pioneers paved the way for generations of women to do the job

A satellite image captured in September of 2020 shows how wildfire smoke blanketed the West Coast.

New Research

Wildfire Smoke Is More Damaging to Respiratory Health Than Other Sources of Air Pollution

Smoke exposure was associated with more hospital admissions than equivalent amounts of non-wildfire emissions

Category-4 Hurricane Laura hit Cameron, Louisiana on August 27, 2020 with winds up to 150 mph and storm surge in excess of 15 feet. The storm caused costly destruction along the coast and inland to the city of Lake Charles and was one of seven storms that caused more than $1 billion in damages.

U.S. Breaks Record for Billion-Dollar Climate Disasters in 2020

A total of 22 disasters caused $95 billion in total damage, reflecting climate change’s growing cost

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