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Conditions in the area are so dry that flames reached 500 feet into the air yesterday, and the fire burned downed trees that were scorched in the huge Cerro Grande fire in 2000. Both Arizona and New Mexico have seen their largest fires in recorded history, and Texas has seen the most acreage burned in recorded history.
The Christian Science Monitor today quoted Grant Meyer, a geologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque who studies the interaction of climate and weathering processes, as saying: "these big, severe fires are not unprecedented" in hot, dry intervals the region has experienced during the past 10,000 years.
New Mexico's Las Conchas fire provided researchers with an unexpected chance to conduct before-and-after studies of how wildfire affected short and long-term erosion rates.
The study is the first to assess the impact of wildfires on forested mountainous landscapes of the US Intermountain West by combining several different ways to measure short-term and long-term erosion rates.
Erosion after severe wildfires can be the dominant force shaping forested mountainous landscapes of the U. Intermountain West, suggests a new research paper by two University of Arizona geoscientists.
Most of the erosion happened in the first year after the fire.
Caitlin Orem had been studying erosion in seven mountain watersheds near New Mexico's Valles Grande but wasn't focused on wildfire.
The largest fire in New Mexico history is now the dangerous Los Conchas wildfire, which continues to threaten Los Alamos, New Mexico.