Zimbabwe–– What are veld fires? These are blazes that get out of control and become wild, and in the process destroy extensive tracts of forests, grasslands, animals, people and their properties. Fire, as part of natural process has a positive role in the vegetation structure and composition, and helps recycle nutrients contained in old and dead trees. There is, however, concern that the frequency, extent and pattern of burning are increasing due to human activities. It is a fact that the damage from these fires has grown to outweigh the benefits of fire on the ecosystem. Frequent burning has implications on carbon stocks and emissions, wildlife habitat, human health and life as well as livelihoods. 1. Schoolchildren Immediately report the fire incident to adults. Do not attempt to cross over fires, crossing over a veld fire result in fatalities. Do not try to extinguish a veld fire in the absence of adults. Never climb trees in the direction of a veld fire instead run away from the veld fire. 2. People waiting for buses Completely extinguish side road fires they use to keep themselves warm whilst waiting for transport/buses. Ensure that all the glowing splints and burning charcoal are completely extinguished using water or burying with moist soil. 3. Smokers Use ash trays to place cigarette stubs. 4. Bee Smokers/Farmers Seek advice from Forestry Commission and EMA on better methods of honey extraction instead of using open fires. 5. Motorists Put off your cigarette stubs and use ashtrays if you smoke to avoid veld fires. Stop and assist in putting out fire and always travel with a fire extinguisher/fire beater. Service your cars electrical system and tighten any loose mechanical parts such as the exhaust to avoid veld fires emanating from sparks so created after getting in contact with the grass on the road servitude as you drive. Report veld fires to the nearest police station or road block or EMA offices. 6. Traditional leaders Establish firefighting teams to put off uncontrolled veld fires in every village. Hold fire awareness campaign meetings with communities throughout the fire season Use cultural ways of punishing veld fire offenders as a way of upholding norms and values of their areas. Keep a record of all veld fires that occurred in their areas. 7. Rural District Councils Establish an environmental committee to oversee environmental issues including veld fires Establish environmental sub-committees which are chaired by a councillor in a given ward or wards. Appoint an environmental monitor together with EMA, in each district to monitor fire issues and identify offenders. Establish fighting teams in every ward through environmental committees. Report all veld fire incidences within seven days to the police, Rural District Council and Environmental Management Agency through Environmental committees and sub-committees. 8. Farmers/Property Owners Construct standard fireguards which are at least 9m wide on boundaries and at least 4,5m wide for internal fire guards on your properties during the months of May and June every year before the fire season. Keep bowsers and knapsacks filled with water throughout the fire season. Keep firefighting equipment at an accessible central point. Use either ox-drawn ploughs, tractors or hoes to construct fireguards. Inspect fireguards regularly to make sure that they are free of any material that burns. Ensure that firefighting equipment is in place, bowers/knapsack sprayers filled with water during the fire season. Report all fire incidences to the nearest ZRP or EMA offices within seven days. WE ARE NOW IN THE FIRE SEASON, DO NOT START FIRES. Do not let your dreams go up in smoke be firewise. 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.