Scientists are deploying new measuring stations in the Czech forests, warning of an increased fire risk. In total, more than a hundred of them are supposed to work on the Firerisk project. Measures the moisture of soil, plants and firewood. With the help of the information obtained, researchers can improve predictions of the fire hazards they are making today for the next week. But it was enough for them to burn one station in Bohemian Switzerland.
Professor Miroslav Trnka of the Czech Republic’s Chikiglobe Institute for Global Change Research, who leads the Firerisk project and among others, explains a related drought monitoring called Intersucho. The charred equipment was later found by NP České Švýcarsko workers. Only metal parts remained.
“Both stations in Czech Switzerland showed that shortly before the fire, the humidity dropped to very low values,” Trenca notes, but notes that the best conditions for the fire, according to the sensors, were already in place a week ago.
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This assures scientists that they have chosen suitable sites for 105 new plants, where there is a real danger of major plant fires. In addition to national parks such as České Švýcarsko or Podyjí, according to Trnka, the danger increases especially in the vicinity of Prague and Brno, where more stations are placed in forests.
“We know that the areas around Prague and Brno in the future are among the places where climate change will almost certainly change from the point of view of fire weather. It will be one of the most suitable conditions for the occurrence of plant fires,” warns Trinca, among other things, regarding the risks of air pollution around Gatherings during the summer heat.
“In a place like this fire, you can’t ventilate at night when it cools down. Results from the US show, among other things, that a significant part of the damage caused by fires is not only due to burning buildings, property, casualties and injuries, but also the level of air pollution.” In the event of rising temperatures, residents often complain even tens of kilometers away that they cannot open their windows for weeks. ”
Researchers assess fire hazards according to what is called fire weather. It is a combination of factors such as air and soil moisture, wind speed and temperature. However, the amount of water the plants contain also plays an important role in plant fires.
A new network of stations is currently focused on this figure. You can come across one in the sloping deciduous forest above the Brno Dam. In addition to sensors for measuring soil moisture and vegetation, it also contains tree gauges that measure how the circumference of the trunk has changed.
The station sends data to the cloud
“Maybe a squirrel, maybe a beaver, or a twig lost. Maybe some mushroom pickers were going in that direction and slipped and got stuck on the wire,” says Matog Ursage of Check Globe, who installed the station here and is now here to fix the dendritic gauge that fell off oak trunk; The heart of the entire device is a metal shaft driven into the ground with a data logger and antenna, through which plastic weights with cables lead to the surrounding sensors.
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The station collects data every half hour and sends it twice a day to cloud storage. This way, researchers can find out relatively quickly if something is wrong. The battery should last at least two years. The value of the station is about 100,000 kroner.
“All give us information about the moisture conditions of the soil and wood, but also about the microclimate of the whole plant,” Orság explains, pointing to a pair of stick sensors that indicate the state of the surrounding wood.
“It is a 1.3 cm x 50 cm log of California pine wood. Inside two thin stainless steel electrodes. They can be used to continuously measure the moisture content of the wood, which periodically dries out and becomes damp depending on ambient conditions,” Orság explains.
At the time of our visit, it was raining and the record reported 60 percent humidity. The same sensor in Czech Switzerland reported 5-10 percent before the fire. The network of these stations should soon determine the microclimate in forests throughout the Czech Republic.
The map is accessible on the website
These days, Matog Orsage and colleagues are installing the last of a series of stations in uninhabited sites in Šumava National Park, Jeseníky and South Moravia: “It’s not just my effort. Colleagues from the IFER Institute helped us with half of those, who are going to install the stations in six sites. in North Bohemia,” Orság adds.
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When all stations are deployed, they can begin to take advantage of the fire forecasting system seven days in advance in individual space areas, which can be accessed publicly on the web. firerisk.cz.
“Our map is interactive. When I click on the selected Land Registry, it shows the main parameters of the fire risk for the selected area, color-coded, and I also get hourly accuracy. Rarely does a major fire risk last more than a few hours during a given day,” notes Miroslav Trinca.
So far, the system has been based on data from a relatively dense network of meteorological stations of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, which of course has its limitations. “It is mostly measured under standard conditions on turf surfaces.
It’s not in the woods where there is a slightly different microclimate, meteorologist Martin Mono of HMÚ states, adding that both systems should now combine as part of fire risk monitoring.
It is necessary to follow the warnings
However, monitoring would be useless if people did not take it into account. Most natural fires (more than 90%) are caused by humans due to negligence or deliberate initiation. Thus, the forecast system for several days in advance should serve firefighters, foresters, farmers, municipalities, as well as the organizers of summer camps.
With regard to advanced climate change, according to scientific analyzes, it is clear that the risks of vegetation fires will increase: “The number of days in which there is favorable fire weather will not only increase. It has already grown significantly in the past 60 years”, notes Professor Trinka.
“We are noticing an increase in large natural fires not only in the Czech Republic. We saw them in Austria this year and last year. We are watching increased fire zones in some regions of the entire temperate belt. Fires belong to nature,” says Trinca.
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“The reasons for its increase are often more complex than simply stating that climate change has occurred. But in our region, we can safely say that climate trends and the greater number of days, which is a consequence of climate trends, is really reflected in the number of firefighters’ trips to plant fires,” explains a scientist Bioclimate.
According to Martin Money, forecasts and the associated warning system can lead to measures that reduce the risk of fires: “Alert systems serve the state administration, which can, for example, declare a ban on entering forests or a ban on burning wood in a certain period. It is very important.
“Outside, for example, if there is a high fire risk, they restrict the entrances to the national parks. We know that HMÚ warned of the danger of fire in bohemian Switzerland a week before the fire started. Entry there was not restricted and we could see what to happen,” Mooney notes.
However, fire risk monitoring can also lead to preventive interventions in the landscape. According to Miroslav Trinka, the frequency and extent of large fires is in our hands, despite the fact that climate change favors fires.
“Prevention is key. If I’m really putting out a fire, I usually put in some terrain with a certain amount of resources and the possibility of taking over a road, space, or other type of vegetation,” he explains.
“But when I purposefully manage the landscape in a way that creates such obstructions, the chances of locating a fire without excessive deployment of resources increase exponentially. Experience from the USA shows that every dollar spent on prevention will be returned many times over because I don’t have to pay that much for Individual fire interventions,” concludes the bioclimatologist.