Author Topic: California burning again  (Read 6816 times)

littleman

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2020, 08:08:39 AM »
Yeah, 12,000 firefighters.

rcjordan

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2020, 12:29:16 PM »

ergophobe

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2020, 10:16:49 PM »
I think all the time about how long we should live here in order to sell our house and move before things become unsustainable. The thing is, almost nowhere west of the Mississippi is truly sustainable except perhaps in the Pacific Northwest. That is one of the conclusions of "Cadillac Desert," which was written in the 1970s, before climate change was even a factor. He made the case that a century of research showed that the American West was living through a mild, wet period and it would all come crashing down when the climate returned to more historical norms.

Now we see that it isn't returning to historical norms at all, it's moving to something we haven't seen since the emergence of modern humans, let alone since the European invasion of the American West.

ergophobe

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2020, 11:54:44 PM »
PS - here's some food for thought as you think about how bad these fires are.

Last I read (about 3 days ago), we were at just under over* a million acres burned this year. It could easily double and reach 2 million, possibly even breaking the 2003 record (2 million acres burned).

That's bad, right? Well, fire ecologists best estimate is that the average fire year pre-1800 was 4.5 million acres. That is the level of fire that the California ecosystem "expects" each year, barring human intervention. In other words, in our *worst* fire years, we only burn less than half the acreage that the ecosystem has evolved to expect.

*Over 1 million acres burned since July
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-22/more-than-a-million-acres-have-burned-in-california-since-july-as-monster-fires-rage-around-bay-area

2020 now has the 2, 3, and 9 biggest fires in recorded California history (and 8 of the top ten are from 2012 or later... a bad sign).
https://www.fire.ca.gov/media/5510/top20-acres.pdf

What is probably quite different from the fires for 300 and 500 years ago is the intensity. 300 years ago the landscape saw frequent fires and, of course, cooler temperatures and more regular rains, so the fires were probably mostly low-intensity. Plus you didn't have 35 million people living in the state.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 12:02:27 AM by ergophobe »

Brad

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2020, 10:37:29 AM »
> unsustainable

This applies to California but also to the rest of the nation too:  we need to reign in suburban sprawl.  The amount of resources used and the impact on the environment makes our current sprawl very costly.  Especially in CA.

ergophobe

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2020, 03:48:19 PM »
Looking at purpleair.com last night parts of California were at 900, just insane.

A friend keeps telling me it's the best, but when I look at the readings of the $250 PA sensors and the map of $10,000 to $50,000 sensors on Airnow.gov, the numbers on Purple Air are 2-3X higher. Currently, at my house, we have clear blue skies and a webcam about 3 miles away is showing clear blue skies. The PA sensor which is on a direct line between me and said webcam is showing levels of 181. The Airnow sensors in the region are mostly showing levels in the 70-90 range and when I look at webcams near those sensors, it looks a LOT worse than here.

I don't trust the Purple Air numbers

littleman

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2020, 05:50:08 PM »
Fair enough.  The scale may be off, but I do find their data very useful.  It shows the relative air quality of the local area in much greater detail.  We could see the smoke approaching and when it is getting better.  The data seems to correlate with what is going on outside visually and olfactorily.

The Airnow.gov data covers a lot of square miles per sensor, the sensor that covers our area is three towns away.

ergophobe

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #37 on: August 25, 2020, 12:06:12 AM »
Just realized - Purple Air defaults to AQI and the local monitors report in micrograms per cubic meter. So I was comparing two numbers, one in pounds and one in kg (actually worse b/c the AQI scale is non-linear). Doh!!

This guy has an interesting article about using Purple Air and AirNow together.

https://thebolditalic.com/understanding-purpleair-vs-airnow-gov-measurements-of-wood-smoke-pollution-562923a55226

littleman

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #38 on: August 25, 2020, 09:01:53 PM »
More on PurpleAir vs. Air Now.  These are snippets from a conversation my wife had with her brother and his wife.  The brother has a PhD in chemical engineering and his wife has a PhD in environmental engineering.  They were having a parallel conversation over the family chat group.

Brother:
Quote
...purpleair only monitors particulate matter (PM) and not other pollutants, such as ozone. That's ok for the fires because we're mostly concerned about PM. On other days when smog or other pollutants are a problem, then purplenow won't help you much. The true AQI is made up of 5-6 different components; PM is just one of them.

Sister in law:
Quote
Other reasons for discrepancies between purple air and air now are the frequency of measurements. Purpleair is basically minute timescales and airnow gives two predictions: “current” (based on multiple hours or more frequently for wildfires of previous data) and “daily forecast” (based on last 24 hrs). Purpleair describes this here under Averaging Time.

https://www2.purpleair.com/community/faq#!hc-how-do-purpleair-sensors-compare-to-regulatory-particulate-matter-sensors

Purpleair misstates some of the comparison to Airnow saying those numbers are all 24hr average which isn’t true for the “current” reading. One can read the “Nowcast” part here by EPA:

https://www.airnow.gov/aqi/aqi-basics/using-air-quality-index/

There are also technical differences in the measurements between Purpleair and regulatory agency that make the numbers different, though the safest is to act as if the higher number is correct.

ergophobe

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #39 on: August 25, 2020, 11:30:48 PM »
Thanks. A friend and neighbor was saying maybe we should get one, which is why I was poking around.

I found this helpful too.
https://climatechange.ucdavis.edu/what-can-i-do/making-sense-of-air-quality-sensors-an-aqi-explainer/

The key bit about Purple Air

Quote
I asked Anthony Wexler, director of the Air Quality Research Center at UC Davis to explain... Wexler said there are some very small particles its sensors can’t access. So the program uses an algorithm to estimate the current PM2.5 concentration, a part of the AQI. This helps explain why there are slight differences between the various “Conversion” types: “LRAPA” uses calculations from the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, while “AQandU” estimates are from the University of Utah.

I tried to nail down Wexler on which conversion layer I should be clicking on for the best estimate, but he said that, ultimately, they are all an educated guess designed to give users a good sense of how healthy or unhealthy the current air quality is.

“They’re making a guess about the total concentration from part of the total story,” Wexler said. “It’s an intelligent guess, but it’s a guess.”

And the part that is most relevant to me personally and my buying (or rather not buying) decision:

Quote
In the meantime, Wexler said common sense is one of the most powerful sensors. He typically doesn’t even look at the AQI maps as part of his day, even during these smoke-ridden ones.

“I look outside and I go, ‘Oh geez, it smells like smoke, dammit.”

littleman

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #40 on: August 26, 2020, 04:55:42 PM »
>> unsustainable

Video format, but great visuals on California's water problem.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I821oI3Ezjs

ergophobe

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #41 on: August 26, 2020, 08:41:05 PM »
All my water fears in 9:32. Actually, half my fears. If he had added 3 minutes focused on my own little community, that would cover it.

ergophobe

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2020, 08:23:35 PM »
From the Calfire daily update

Quote
Since the lightning siege that started on Saturday, August 15, 2020, there have been nearly 14,000 lightning strikes. During this time-period, there have been more than 700 new wildfires, which have now burned over 1.35 million acres. The significant acreage burned makes the fires collectively larger than the State of Delaware. In this siege, there have been 7 reported fatalities and nearly 1,890 structures destroyed.

A strong marine layer has returned, and continues to extend further inland which has helped raise relative humidity and lower temperatures in some areas. Gusty winds can accompany the marine layer however, challenging firefighting efforts. There was good humidity and temperature recovery overnight which reduces fire behavior. Warmer conditions are expected over the weekend. Isolated thunderstorms are still possible in the upper portion of northern California and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The rest of California will experience a return to a warm and dry weather pattern.

https://www.fire.ca.gov/daily-wildfire-report/

littleman

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #43 on: August 28, 2020, 01:56:30 AM »
Quite an odd circumstance that the two larges fires in California's history are happening at the same time and they are both in the Bay Area where so many people live.

grnidone

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Re: California burning again
« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2020, 02:45:51 AM »
My sister is in Petaluma, and has had her bug out bags in the van for her and her family if she has to leave.

She is sick of being inside the house on quarantine with her husband and two kids, and NOT being able to let the kids play outside to burn off energy because the air quality is so bad.

She is OVER IT ALL.