Researchers found that a non-native species of grass in the Great Basin fueled some of the largest U.S. wildfires in the West.
A research team that included members from the Pennsylvania State University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of California-Santa Barbara and University College London studied satellite imagery over a period of 10 years to learn how cheatgrass has changed the fire activity across the Great Basin, according to live.psu.edu.
The team found that the grass influenced 39 of the 50 largest wildfires during the last decade. Cheatgrass can spread rapidly and fill in the ground between other plant species. As a result, areas where cheatgrass fires have occurred have a shorter fire-return interval (the time between fires in a region) than other native plant species.
Cheatgrass was accidentally introduced to the area by settlers to the West during the 1800s. The grass grows during the wet seasons and is very dense. Currently, the grass is covering an area larger than 40,000 square kilometers (more than 24,000 square miles), an area more than 100 times the size of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The average size of fires involving cheatgrass grasslands in the Great Basin area was significantly larger than fires in areas that were dominated with other plants such as pinyon-juniper, montane shrubland or agricultural land.
Cheatgrass fires over the last decade have affected parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, California and Oregon.
The researchers are looking at possible solutions to the cheatgrass problem, including using a fungus to attack the grass seed, the BBC reports.
The tropics have been quite active around Hawaii as of late, and the pattern is not expected to change anytime soon with Hurricane Ignacio churning in the eastern Pacific.
Erica will bring torrential rain, flash flooding, mudslides and gusty winds to many of the northern islands of the Caribbean prior to taking a turn toward the Bahamas and Florida this weekend.
As many as seven tropical cyclones were churning throughout the world this past week, while smoke from wildfires across the Pacific Northwest led to poor air quality across the region.
Heat will linger in Eastern Europe for much of the fall season; meanwhile, the British Isles and northwestern Europe can expect a stormy end to the season.
As Hurricane Katrina barreled towards the Gulf Coast, peaking at Category 5 strength while feasting on the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, meteorologists around the country prepared to deliver one of the most crucial and life-saving forecasts in history.
Cleveland-based pseudonymous photographer Seph Lawless ventured to New Orleans in July of 2015 to tell the story of a still-recovering city 10 years post-Katrina.
Colorado Springs, CO (1978)
Hail 6 inches deep.
Rochester, MN (1979)
2.73 inches of rain fell in 50 minutes making this the wettest August on record. (9.52 inches of rain so far this month). The heavy downpour flooded the streets of Rochester, stranding about 1,500 cars.
A five-state tornado outbreak in Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Iowa and Missouri occurred on this date. In all, 20 tornadoes were reported. Nine were in Iowa. One near Farragut, IA, in the extreme SW corner of the state, caused several fatalities and numerous injuries.