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Fire and Ice: The Puzzling Link Between Western Wildfires and Arctic Sea Ice

As sea ice melts from July to October, sunlight warms the increasingly iceless, surrounding area.

“Some say the world will end in fire,” wrote Robert Frost a century ago. The poet described one popular take on the world’s end before shifting to its apocalyptic opposite, writing, “some say in ice.”

But the relationship between fire and ice, in terms of Earth’s climate, is not quite as “either or” as Frost depicted. In the case of a study presented today at the 2021 AGU Fall Meeting in New Orleans, that relationship is more “give and take.”

The team of researchers behind the recent study describe a link between dwindling sea ice and worsening wildfires in the western United States. As sea ice melts from July to October, sunlight warms the increasingly iceless, surrounding area. This ultimately brings heat and fire-favorable conditions to distant states like California, Washington, and Oregon later in autumn and early winter.

Read more at PNNL

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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