Study ties pine beetle to severe Wash. wildfires

Study ties pine beetle to severe Wash. wildfires

26 January 2011

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USA — A new study mapping the mountain pine beetle outbreak in north-central Washington shows that infested areas were more likely to experience larger, more destructive forest fires.

The study, which was a collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Forest Service, aimed to detect bark beetle infestations and to evaluate the link between them and forest fires in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Satellite data showed regions of the forest experiencing water and vegetation stress, and analysis tied these regions to beetle infestations. Additional review showed highly infested areas that subsequently burned had more intense forest fires than areas without infestations.

The forest has experienced severe wildfires in recent years, including the Tripod Fire, which burned on more than 273 square miles.

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