The roaring Bootleg Fire burning up swaths of southwestern Oregon is the nation’s largest wildfire so far this year and intense enough that it’s triggering weather phenomena, including lightning, massive columns of smoke and ash clouds reaching high into the atmosphere, and even the possibility of a “fire tornado.” Loretta Mickley, senior research fellow in chemistry-climate interactions at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has examined the interaction of wildfires and climate and published research on the likelihood that the wildfires will grow larger and more frequent in the years to come. The Gazette spoke to Mickley to better understand the causes, dangers, and expectations for the future.
GAZETTE: There were reports that the Bootleg Fire may have spawned a fire tornado, which I think begs the question, “What is a fire tornado?”
MICKLEY: It is a…
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