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Washington State University

A Summer of Heat, Flooding, Fire, and Smoke

Posted by rdsayler | August 14, 2023
Sun and clouds of smoke
[Photo: Summer sun obscured by smoke from wildfires in Washington State. By R. Sayler.]


This summer, the dramatic summer of 2023, will go down as one of many markers of increasingly widespread and frequent effects of climate heating and climate catastrophe.  It is news to virtually no-one that this past July appears to be the hottest month recorded on Earth since instrument measurements began (see: Axios), and even possibly, for about the last 125,000 years.

Unfortunately, climate scientists in the WSU School of the Environment are increasingly called upon to comment on their own climate research as well as the diverse research findings of their climate colleagues and associates around the world.

Recently, Dr. Deepti Singh, WSU School of the Environment, was interviewed for her thoughts on the summer of 2023 by NBC News (see: Heat, flooding and smoke: The U.S. is in the midst of a summer of extremes).

It causes me a lot of anxiety, the start of the summer season,” Singh said. “The fact we are seeing so many fatalities and such extreme impacts means we’re not prepared and we’re not adapted to the conditions we’re experiencing.”

In addition, recent work by Dr. Singh’s Climate Extremes Lab has explored the interactions of dry lightening (lightening with little or no rain) and various rainfall amounts that can contribute to “holdover” fires, or wildfires that can be caused by smoldering materials that ignite days after a dry lightening event.

Doctoral student, Dmitri Kalashnikov, and colleagues analyzed extensive wildfire data from 2015-20 for the western U.S. and found that about 15.3% of fires caused by lightening strikes were holdover fires, which could represent more than 100 such fires a year (see: Dry lightening can spark wildfires even under wetter conditions).

For more information:

See Video KGW8: Lightening can start fires even when there’s heavier rainfall

See: CAS in the Media

See publication: Geophysical Research Letters 


See more stories @ SoE Science News