New gel lets us spread flame retardant before wildfires start

New gel lets us spread flame retardant before wildfires start

Enlarge / Firefighters from Stockton, Calif., put out flames off of Hidden Valley Rd. while fighting a wildfire, Friday, May 3, 2013 in Hidden Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Mel Melcon) (credit: flickr user: Daria Devyatkina) The last few years have seen horrific fire seasons in California, resulting in destruction, deaths, and economic damage.

And with climate change continuing unabated, things are set to get worse.

Prevention is better than firefighting; avoiding carelessness is one way to reduce the huge number of human-caused wildfires. But a paper in PNAS this week reports a new option for wildfire prevention: a fire retardant-carrying gel that coats vegetation in a thin film, keeping that vegetation safe from fire long enough to see it through fire season.

If it is demonstrated to be safe, it could allow us to spray high-risk areas at the start of fire season and keep protection through until heavy rains start.

Short-term retardants Wildfire plays an important ecological role, but human activities make the natural fire season much worse—hot dry weather has tripled the length of the season, while humans cause 85 percent of fires.

None of the fire retardants available at the moment last for very long.

Some of them can stop a fire only as long as they're wet. Once the water in these gels has evaporated (which can happen in less than an hour thanks to the heat of a wildfire), they're no longer effective.

Категория: Science and Technology. Источник: arstechnica.com.

 

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