LIU Post Experts on Long Island’s Brush Fires
Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Post, Long Island University
The massive brush fires in Suffolk County are partially the result of unusually dry weather, but fire is a natural and necessary part of the Pine Barrens ecosystem, earth science experts at LIU Post said today, April 10, 2012.
"These fires have resulted from very dry air; the relative humidity has been extremely low for some time now," said Dr. Margaret Boorstein, chair of the Earth and Environmental Science department at LIU Post (formerly the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University.) "Red flag warnings are more typical in the western United States; we do not have them very often here. Our strange weather this year is thought to be caused by a variety of factors, including La Nina, a cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean; the Arctic Oscillation; and the path of the jet stream."
Dr. Scott Carlin, an associate professor of geography and authority on ecology and sustainability, said fires in the Pine Barrens region of Long Island help rejuvenate forests.
"After the historic Pine Barrens fire of 1995, the landscape looked scarred to the public, but ecologists knew the forest would rebound," Dr. Carlin said. "One of the reasons New York State preserved these lands is that it made no sense to build homes in the middle of a landscape that was prone to burning – and needs these fires to rejuvenate itself."
Dr. Boostein and Dr. Carlin teach in LIU Post's new master's degree program in environmental sustainability.
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