EARTH: Fire-driven Clouds and Swirling Winds Whipped Up Record-Setting New Mexico Blaze

PDF versionPDF version

EARTH: Fire-driven Clouds and Swirling Winds Whipped Up Record-Setting New Mexico Blaze
Maureen Moses (

Alexandria, VA—The massive 2011 Las Conchas Fire near Los Alamos, N.M., defied conventional fire science wisdom by racing downhill instead of uphill, and increasing intensity overnight. Now, EARTH Magazine brings you recent scientific analysis of the fire from a research team at Los Alamos National Lab.

A team led by atmospheric scientist Young-Joon Kim determined that two unique atmospheric effects — mountain waves and pyro-cumulus clouds — interacted in an explosive way to fan the flames over New Mexico. Read more about the new research and how it compares to traditional fire models in EARTH Magazine:

For more of the science behind the headlines download the May issue of EARTH Magazine which includes exclusive feature stories of the science of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the history of human-caused earthquakes, and using bird genomes to untangle avian family tress at


Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH magazine online at: Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.


The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

Press Release PDF: