2012-06-20. Colorado Fire Follows in Pine Beetles' Tracks

posted Jun 21, 2012, 9:41 AM by Lisa Ou
 | by Nathaniel Massey and Climate Wire, Scientific American. An article relevant to GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: Mountain pine beetle infestation killed the trees fueling the High Park fire, By Nathanael Massey and ClimateWire. Excerpt: It has been nearly two weeks since a tongue of lightning touched down in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, sparking the biggest wildfire in Larimer County history and the most destructive -- with almost 200 buildings damaged to date -- in the state's memory. ...When pine beetles [link "pine beetles to http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05528.html] take over a forest, fire is typically not far behind, said Cal Wettstein, incident commander with the Rocky Mountain division of the Beetle Incident Management Organization. ...Many entomologists point to the record warmth of the last 10 years as a cause. The beetle's life cycle is temperature-dependent. It is killed by frosts, but its life cycle is accelerated by warmth, and in some cases higher temperatures have been shown to allow the beetles to reproduce twice a year rather than once (ClimateWire, March 19). Add to those factors a dry winter and hot spring of the kind Colorado witnessed this year and last, and you have a perfect storm of conditions for a blaze on the scale and severity of the High Park fire, said Reghan Cloudman, public information officer for the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest....Read more: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=colorado-fire-follows-pine-beetles-tracks