Spain–– MADRID Arson was suspected in a wildfire that forced the evacuation of 2,000 people just west of Madrid, while firefighters in Bosnia used military helicopters Tuesday to battle blazes there.
A fire affecting three towns near the Spanish capital was started in six points almost simultaneously, indicating it was arson, regional justice department chief Regina Planol told Cadena SER radio.
She called it environmental terrorism and urged residents to help police catch those responsible.
Alvaro Santamaria, the mayor of Valdemaqueda, one of the affected towns, said the fire came as close as 100 meters (yards) but firefighters were confident it could be brought under control Tuesday.
No one was injured and those evacuated were expected to return later in the day.
Spanish National Television said some 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) of land have burned. In all, Spain has seen 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles) of land hit by nearly 12,000 wildfires this year more than triple the amount burned last year.
Labor unions say Spanish government cutbacks have led to a lack of resources to help firefighters battle blazes.
In southern Bosnia, military helicopters were sent in to help villagers and firefighters battling devastating wildfires in a region that has seen record high temperatures and no rain.
Pero Pavlovic, spokesman for the regional Civil Protection Agency, said the most critical situation Tuesday was around Glogosnica, where two blazes were creeping down inaccessible mountain slopes toward the village.
Wildfires were also burning near the Bosnian towns of Trebinje, Gacko, Nevesinje and Mostar and in other Balkan countries, including Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia.
In Serbia, emergency official Predrag Maric said 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) of forest have been destroyed in the past few weeks as the country was hit by more than 200 fires.
Huge damage has been done, forests cannot be replaced easily and quickly, he said.
But Maric said the only big fire still not fully under control was on Mount Tara in central Serbia.
In neighboring Croatia, the army joined firefighters in battling dozens of wildfires but strong winds hampered their efforts. Some 120 workers were trying to tame a fire that was approaching homes near Rudine, close to the coastal city of Split.
The situation is serious, firefighter commander Milivoj Taslak said. Two special aircraft and one helicopter had joined the firefighting efforts.
Authorities in Montenegro were battling over 60 fires but rain had helped those efforts.
When the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCpWithin 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCpWhen the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Within 24 hours, a few researchers at the David Skaggs Research Center had opened up a particle sampling port on the roof of the building and started pulling in smoky air for analysis by two custom instruments inside. They became the first scientists to directly measure and quantify some unique heat-trapping effects of wildfire smoke particles. “For the first time we were able to measure these warming effects minute-by-minute as the fire progressed,” said CIRES scientist Dan Lack, lead author of the study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers also were able to record a phenomenon called the “lensing effect,” in which oils from the fire coat the soot particles and create a lens that focuses more light onto the particles. This can change the “radiative balance” in an area, sometimes leading to greater warming of the air and cooling of the surface. While scientists had previously predicted such an effect and demonstrated it in laboratory experiments, the Boulder researchers were one of the first to directly measure the effect during an actual wildfire. Lack and his colleagues found that lensing increased the warming effect of soot by 50 to 70 percent. “When the fire erupted on Labor Day, so many researchers came in to work to turn on instruments and start sampling that we practically had traffic jams on the road into the lab,” Lack said. “I think we all realized that although this was an unfortunate event, it might be the best opportunity to collect some unique data. It turned out to be the best dataset, perfectly suited to the new instrument we had developed.” The instrument called a spectrophotometer can capture exquisite detail about all particles in the air, including characteristics that might affect the smoke particles’ tendency to absorb sunlight and warm their surroundings. While researchers know that overall, wildfire smoke can cause this lensing effect, the details have been difficult to quantify, in part because of sparse observations of particles from real-world fires. Once the researchers began studying the data they collected during the fire, it became obvious that the soot from the wildfire was different in several key ways from soot produced by other sourcesdiesel engines, for example. “When vegetation burns, it is not as efficient as a diesel engine, and that means some of the burning vegetation ends up as oils,” Lack said. In the smoke plume, the oils coated the soot particles and that microscopic sheen acted like a magnifying glass, focusing more light onto the soot particles and magnifying the warming of the surrounding air. The researchers also discovered that the oils coating the soot were brown, and that dark coloration allowed further absorption of light, and therefore further warming the atmosphere around the smoke plume. The additional warming effects mean greater heating of the atmosphere enveloped in dark smoke from a wildfire, and understanding that heating effect is important for understanding climate change, Lack said. The extra heating also can affect cloud formation, air turbulence, winds and even rainfall. The discovery was made possible by state-of-the-art instruments developed by CIRES, NOAA and other scientists, Lack said. The instruments can capture fine-scale details about particles sent airborne by the fire, including their composition, shape, size, color and ability to absorb and reflect sunlight of various wavelengths. “With such well-directed measurements, we can look at the warming effects of soot, the magnifying coating and the brown oils and see a much clearer, yet still smoky picture of the effect of forest fires on climate,” Lack said. CIRES is a cooperative institute of CU-Boulder and NOAA.