Anti Forest Fire Lightening Rods

I was just looking at reports of the fires out west. I see mention that one was caused by a person who is now under arrest. The others seem to probably been caused by lightening strikes.

OK, so what if we put up ten thousand lightening rods?

  1. Such a device would prevent a strike on the rod from causing a fire, right?

  2. I presume the issue is the cost of the huge numbers of towers needed, right? Any guesses how many such devices might be needed?

If it was proven to work I guess it could be a condition of putting up a cell tower.

However would you want to do that? Many smaller forest fires in a area prevents a huge one. In areas prone to forest fires wood/fuel load increases over the years, and will continue to increase till burnt down. If it’s a long time between fires the fuel load will be very high and the fire that much harder to control. So it is generally better to have smaller more frequent fires then prevent them till it gets so big that it’s a major issue. In nature lightning is a cause of fires that serve that purpose (and usually happens when it’s raining so will slow the spread), though there are also other causes such as fermentation of animal gathered ‘bedding’.

About 3 million acres of forest have burned this year. California alone has 33 million acres of forested land. You’re not talking about tens of thousands of rods, you’re talking about millions of them. And then how are you going to install them? You’ll have to build roads into remote areas as well. The cost would be astronomical.

As has been said, one of the reasons the current fires are so severe is because of many years of fire suppression that has allowed a large amount of flammable material to build up. Preventing lightning strikes will just make matters worse in the long run.

How wide a space can a fire cross?

Thank you, Colibri.

Several things can happen -

In a low intensity fire [burning leaf litter and ground cover, but not having the heat to really set trees on fire and get into the canopy] a road or track can be enough of a firebreak to stop it.

A canopy fire might be stopped by a road if the trees fro the other side are not touching over the road [your trees may vary].

A large hot fire will create its own wind patterns. Based on experience from the Australian bushfires from the start of the year, which were of a comparable scale to what you are seeing in California (remember those happy times before Covid?) burning embers can frequently be blown several kilometres ahead of a fire front. The force of the fire front also means that patches of bare / low fuel ground do not provide sufficient distance to prevent the direct spread of fire along the fire front.

The trees involved may affect what happens on the ground. Australian eucalypt forests are fire-adapted, so that many of the plants require fire or heat as their signal to germinate. Eucalypt leaves are also perfectly designed to stay alight and sail with the wind. A conifer forest may not have that same issue.

Also true of sequoia trees.

Ignition isn’t really the issue. When the weather and ground conditions are right, something is going to start a fire. I know “spontaneous combustion” isn’t really a thing, but for all practical purposes, it might as well be. Thanks to climate change, California is perpetually sitting on a figurative powder keg.

The area protected by even advanced systems is tiny.

https://www.l-ionlightningprotection.com/r-2-how-to-calculate-protection-ar.html

WRT fires, what has climate change changed?

In Sequoia National Park is displayed a section of a giant redwood that’s around 2000 years old. The growth rings show evidence of many significant fires, at an average spacing of ~ 13 years.

Save this link for next year’s lightning season in the West:

https://www.lightningmaps.org/#m=oss;t=3;s=0;o=0;b=;ts=0;

Or use it now.

Nice idea but totally not feasible. Anyway you measure it, it’s not possible.

Miles. Spot fires from the main fire can cause additional fires miles away, depending upon weather conditions, fire intensity, fuel moisture levels, etc.

Australian eucalypts are gas bombs. Their sap is oily. During the Oakland, CA, fires several years ago, the imported trees exploded like BLEVE fires. The recent conflagrations in Australia were akin to oil tanker farms on fire.

Conflagration fires. Several tree species only germinate after a fire sweeps through. Conflagration fires do not sweep through; they burn everything in their paths.

That spacing hasn’t been anywhere as long as 13 years for decades now. Our fire seasons are more often than not worse than the year before.

A rapid analysis released this year found that climate change made the conditions for Australia’s unprecedented 2019-20 bushfires at least 30% more likely. Further analysis – visualised below in an interactive map – has shown that, globally, climate change is driving an increase in the weather conditions that can stoke wildfires.

How is climate change affecting wildfire risk?

There are several ways in which climate change can raise the risk of wildfires – and the importance of each of these factors varies from region to region, says Dr Cristina Santin, a wildfires researcher from Swansea University.

However, in general, one of the most important ways that climate change can increase the risk of severe fires is by causing vegetation to dry out, she says.

When temperatures are warmer than average, rates of evaporation increase, causing moisture to be drawn out from plants on the land. This drying can create “tinderbox conditions” – meaning that, if a fire is sparked, it can spread very quickly over large areas.

Similar conditions can also be created by long periods of drought, Santin tells Carbon Brief:

“In the fire community, we call vegetation that is available to burn ‘fuel’. If you have a forest, not all vegetation is considered fuel because, under normal circumstances, it’s not going to burn. But if you have a huge drought or heatwave, a lot of that vegetation will be very dry and, therefore, it will become fuel.”

Such conditions occurred during the 2018 northern hemisphere heatwave, which saw all-time temperature records broken across Europe, North America and Asia.

In the Attica region of Greece, wildfires ripped across large swathes of dry land at lightning speed, causing people to rush to nearby beaches and into the sea. (A study covered by Carbon Brief found that the 2018 northern-hemisphere heatwave would have been “impossible” without human-caused climate change.)

Are you saying that trees don’t regrow in the burned areas?

The 13-year average spacing refers to fires seen by one tree in one location over 2000 years - not the spacing of significant fire seasons across the whole state.

No. A “typical” wildfire does not burn everything. There are patches of unburned trees, grasses, and soil. Many trees are blackened, with burned barks but the trees survive. But with the (conflagration) fires occurring now, everything burns. Even the soil is damaged. Then the winter rains/snows can cause huge amounts of erosion.

The forest will return, but it will take much much longer if there is no rehab.

See http://www2.nau.edu/~gaud/bio300w/frsl.htm

Short answer - In a conflagration fire regrowth is severely stunted.

You raised the issue. You are seemingly saying that the data point you provided is irrelevant to the issue. So why did you raise it?

No - it’s certainly relevant. But the record seen in the rings of a single sequoia tree are obviously related to fires seen by that tree, and not a record of fires in other areas of California.

If we take this sequoia’s evidence to mean that a single location in the Sierra Nevada foothills can expect a significant fire on average every 13 years, it would make sense to expect that across the whole of California with similar climate, significant fires happen much more often.

And so? The frequency of fire in a particular location is not the only indicator that climate change is a factor in the severity of fires in general. GIGObuster’s link has given ways in which climate change is a factor, which was the question you originally asked. You seemed to be suggesting that the fact that fires in Sequoia happened every 13 years somehow refuted that climate change was a factor. In fact, if fires are more severe now, and kill more trees, one might expect that they might take place less often in a given location, since it will take more time for fuel to build up.

My response was to Elmer Fudd’s post that fires were more frequent now.