Research being conducted in Monterey could unlock secrets about the effects massive wildfires have on everything from climate to high altitude pollution.
Dave Peterson, a meteorologist and atmospheric scientist with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, just returned to Monterey from a major endeavor involving hundreds of scientists and computer modeling experts where he led a team of fire and weather forecasters.
The research venture, called the NASA/NOAA Field Campaign FIREX-AQ, studied a phenomenon that occurs in several wildfires that can affect everything from firefighting efforts to climate conditions.
Firefighters involved in the 2013 Rim Fire near Yosemite and the 2018 Carr Fire outside of Redding have described the blazes as having created their own weather. Thunderstorms to be exact. When the conditions are right, such as the level of heat present and the amount of moisture in the air, these fires produce what Peterson calls massive pyrocumulonimbus clouds or pyroCbs.