Upcoming Amazon wildfire season risk is high, UCI and NASA researchers find

This year’s wildfire season could be a rough one in already ravaged Amazon rain forests, particularly in Brazil, according to new predictions by UC Irvine and NASA scientists. Across South America, the risks will range from average  to considerably higher than average, they found. UC Irvine researchers Yang Chen and James Randerson and NASA colleagues arrived at the predictions using a unique methodology–measuring Pacific and Atlantic ocean surface temperatures, which they have previously shown to be reliable indicators of dryness in South America. “For the southern Amazon, the severity of the 2013 fire season is predicted to be considerably higher than in 2011 or 2012,” said Randerson. “Fires in Mato Grosso, Para and Rondonia [in Brazil] are predicted to be above average–near the 65th percentile of fire risk.” The researchers have notified public officials in potentially affected states and hope their work can be utilized to better plan the allocation of firefighting resources and close the gap between a fire outbreak and being able to suppress it.

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