Enhancement of the 1988 northern U.S. drought due to wildfires

  • Authors: Liu, Yongqiang
  • Publication Year: 2005
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: Geophysical Research Letters. 32(10): 1-4.


Drought provides a favourable environment for the ignition and spread of intense wildfires. This study examines the opposite relationship between the two natural disasters, that is, the role of wildfires in the development of drought. The case of the 1988 northern U.S. wildfires is investigated. Emissions of smoke particles from the wildfires and the resulting optical depth are estimated using wildfire data and empirical algorithms. Radiative forcing of the smoke particles and atmospheric response are simulated using a regional climate model. It is found that absorption of solar radiation by smoke particles weakens the North America trough in the middle latitudes, which is a major generator of precipitation in the Midwest. Rainfall in this region is therefore reduced, providing evidence for the role of wildfires in enhancing drought.

  • Citation: Liu, Yongqiang 2005. Enhancement of the 1988 northern U.S. drought due to wildfires. Geophysical Research Letters. 32(10): 1-4.
  • Posted Date: March 22, 2006
  • Modified Date: August 22, 2006
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