Mozambique: First Lady Warns Against Bush Fires


Mozambique: First Lady Warns Against Bush Fires

03 September 2012

published by http://allafrica.com


Mozambique– Maputo — Uncontrolled bush fires are a serious threat to communities, since they destroy their means of subsistence and increase the already high levels of vulnerability, now made worse by the effects of climate change.

This warning was given on Sunday by Mozambique’s first lady, Maria da Luz Guebuza, in a meeting with residents of Pande locality, Govuro district in the southern province of Inhambane, the final stage of her tour of the province where she was looking in particular at government programmes to support children, women and the elderly.

Her reaction to bush fires arose in response to the fact that Inhambane is currently experiencing a wave of such fires, set deliberately for various purposes, such as clearing land for planting, or for building houses or for driving animals out of the bush to hunt them (notably bush rats, regarded as a delicacy). In many cases, no attempt is made to control the fires which are just left to run their course.

From the air, dense clouds of smoke can be seen billowing upwards from the fires set by people who seem quite unaware that they are destroying their own environment.

“When we cause uncontrolled bush fires they endanger, in the first place, our own lives”, stressed Maria Guebuza. “The fires may burn our new houses, they may burn the crops we have stored, they may burn our livestock, and they may impoverish the soil where undertake our subsistence activities”.

The bush fires could damage the soil, by destroying the nutrients that make it fertile, she said. Large fires can also affect cloud formation, and hence rainfall – so essential for agricultural livelihoods in the semi-arid conditions of Govuro.

The people attending the meeting seemed rather surprised by the First Lady’s warnings, and by her call on communities to preserve their environment. This, she said, was the task of everyone, given the threat posed by climate change.

Maria Guebuza did not call for an outright ban on bush fires – but she did urge communities to take care when using fire to clear land, making sure that the flames did not run out of control.

The government has adopted an environmental education strategy, through which it is trying to persuade communities to reduce the scale of the fires which, year after year, devastate millions of hectares of land.

President Armando Guebuza himself launched an initiative entitled “one child, one tree; one community leader, one forest”, intended to encourage reforestation of areas that have been denuded of their vegetation. Under this initiative, every school child is encouraged to plant at least one tree a year, and each community leader is supposed to take responsibility for a patch of forest.
 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 sources—diesel 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.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-evidence-heat-trapping-effects-wildfire-particles.html#jCp


 

 

 

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