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Do SoCal Brush Fires Contribute to Global Warming?

Do SoCal Brush Fires Contribute to Global Warming?

U.S. Forest Service

Brush fire season seems to be coming to Southern California earlier and earlier each season. Normally late summer into late fall is when you need to keep your head up, but this year we were ready for the worst by May. Some are looking at greenhouse gas–fueled global warming as a possible cause.

Now research suggests that a wildfire's "carbon-containing particles" are bad for the environment, producing the kind of bad emissions already blamed for warming the earth. Is this an endless cycle?

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Michigan Technological University looked at emissions from the 2011 Las Conchas fire in New Mexico.

According to a summary:

The team used field-emission scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to analyze the aerosol samples and determined that spherical carbonaceous particles called tar balls were 10 times more abundant than soot.

In other words, this is bad stuff, worse than diesel emissions.

There's a lot of complicated science here, but to break it down, we'll quote Los Alamos' Manvendra Dubey, who says his team found that such wildfire soot creates "more of a warming effect than is currently assumed."

Yeah. He adds:

... We are experiencing more fires and that climate change may increase fire frequency.

Only you can prevent forest fires. And global warming.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.