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No relief for Pacific Northwest drought

major fires in following years if drought resumes.

The models that simulate the droughts and the likelihood of fire are complex and sometimes counter-intuitive, the researchers said, involving such things as vegetation growth, fuel loads, soil moisture, climatic trends and other factors.

"Last year was a pretty severe drought over quite a bit of the nation, but for various reasons our model didn't really suggest a bad fire year for 2004, and in fact it was a pretty mild year," Lenihan said.

"That was fortunate, because there's some evidence that the low-risk fire years are more difficult to predict than those with higher risk," he said. "When our models show a very high level of fire, as they do now, they are usually pretty accurate."

Graphic images mapping the U.S. drought and fire risk conditions are available to illustrate this story, at the web site of OSU News and Communication Services, at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/photos/index.html


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Source:Oregon State University


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