Who would have imagined that desiring clean summer skies would be high on anyones priority wish list. It’s prudent to take a look into history to see factual Rogue Valley weather statistics and see how global warming is actually changing our temperatures. (Source: Weather Underground / Rogue Valley International – Medford Station)
According to the data above, in the past 88 years, the highest increase in temperature was 6 degrees in July. Could there be any correlation between heavy smoke lingering in the valley and increased temperature?
A notable study by CU Boulder, David Skaggs Research Center dated August 27, 2012 believes that there is such a correlation.
“When the Fourmile Canyon Fire erupted west of Boulder in 2010, smoke from the wildfire poured into parts of the city including a site housing scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The researches were able to record a phenomenon called the “lensing effect”, in which oils from the fire coat the soot particles and create a lens that focuses more light onto the particles. This can change the “radiative balance” in an area, sometimes leading to greater warming of the air and cooling of the surface. Mr. Lack and his colleagues found that lensing increased the warming effect of soot by 50 to 70 percent. It became obvious that the soot from the wildfire was different in several key ways from soot produced by other sources — diesel engines, for example.” “When vegetation burns, it is not as efficient as a diesel engine, and that means some of the burning vegetation ends up as oils,” Lack said. In the smoke plume, the oils coated the soot particles and that microscopic sheen acted like a magnifying glass, focusing more light onto the soot particles and magnifying the warming of the surrounding air.”
A logical conclusion explaining why it was 6 degrees cooler in July of 1930 might be because there wasn’t strangling smoke from wildfires caused by the “lensing effect” which increases the soot particles temperature by 50 to 70 percent. It appears that if there had not been smoke in July 2018, the temperature could have actually been cooler than 1930.
The benefits of summers with clear skies are too numerous to mention but it is the belief of many here in Southern Oregon that by bringing together common sense, fact-based ideas and solutions, we can once again enjoy clear skies that were enjoyed by our forefathers.