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Definition – an answer to Boundarylayer[edit]

“When a firestorm is burning there is no evidence at all, with the sole exception of relatively rare mesocyclone and fire Whirl events, that a firestorm has ever ignited material 'ahead' of itself.”

Yes, mesocyclonic firestorms are relatively rare (good luck). But e.g. the 2002 Durango fire and the much greater Great Peshtigo Fire were just mesocyclonic. In Peshtigo, The Great Peshtigo Fire created winds which lifted houses and tossed wagons around. The synoptic winds during the fire were southerly to southwesterly, but no meteorological observations claim higher synoptic winds than 52 kph in Wisconsin. Father Peter Pernin said westerly winds before the fire hit the town – and as a priest who stood nearby his own church, he was well oriented, I think. A few miles north of Peshtigo, however, Phineas Eames and his family ran westwards to escape the fire – of course because the wind was easterly. On the Northern hemisphere, easterly winds occur north of the cyclone center. I think the winds must have turned easterly or north-easterly on the Door and Kewaunee counties, too, for the fire reached neither the eastern parts of the counties nor the Door Peninsula. And these winds could not have been caused by the synoptic low west or northwest of Peshtigo.

“So by all means include the fact that the firestorms at Dresden & Hamburg are unique, in that they were the only events that produced wind speeds so strong that there are reports of people being swept off their feet, and being sucked into the blazing inferno.”

According to eyewitnesses, the The Great Peshtigo Fire produced wind speeds so strong that people were swept off their feet; in addition, the winds also tossed wagons and lifted houses. I have not seen any report who claimes people were sucked into the blazing inferno, but if a firestorm growns to a mesocyclone, the winds probably blow around the center.

“All you have to do is look at the shape of the fire damage created by the Great Peshtigo Fire, which does not look even remotely circular, or disc shaped. Although not mentioned in the article, there is actually a size limit to a firestorm…”

You are right; the footprint of the Great Peshtigo Fire does not look even remotely circular, or disc shaped. This is especially true north of Menominee. But I have not said all the burned area was hit by a firestorm defined as storm-force winds overall. On the other side, nonburned areaes like parts of Green Bay, may have had storm-force winds created by the fire. So or so, I’ll think a circular footprint of a fire (firestorm or not) is possible only in death calm weather (no synoptics winds), the fuel is uniformly distributed, and the terrain is completely flat. Either a firestorm, a partially firestorm, several firestorns or no firestorm, The Great Peshtigo Fire’s footprint couldn’t be even remotely circular: 1) Locally, fuel (or lack of fuel), topography, winds, etc., influenced the fire’s intensity and spreading. The fire was accelerated by methane gas explosions, heaps of debris, hills etc. – and slowed or inhibited by obstacles like rivers and already burned areas, and especially Green Bay. 2) I’ll think a firewhirl and a firestorm – even a mesocyclonic firestorm – will be influenced by the synoptic winds, like subsynoptic disturbances as dust devils, local thunderstorms, or polar lows – even as great systems as the Atlantic hurricanes are influenced by e.g. the Azores High. And during the Great Peshtigo Fire the synoptic winds were significant. 3) The Great Peshtigo Fire may have been three separate fires – one hit the area south of Oconto, the other ravaged Peshtigo etc.; the third originated east of Green Bay and annihilated e.g. Williamsonville.

“Although not mentioned in the article, there is actually a size limit to a firestorm…” Yes, before or later it will hit areas with too low concentration of combustibles (or too humid or to slow-burning combustibles), or the firestorm-created or synoptic winds will blow the flames back to already burned areas. But how do you define the “size” of a mesocyclonic firestorm? (Cf. a tropical hurricane: A satellite photo of the hurricane, i.e. its cloud system, shows a greater area than the area with hurricane-force winds – in a “weak” hurricane, hurricane-force winds do occur only in a small portion of the weather system).

  1. Only the area which burns and has storm-force winds created by the fire?
  2. The area which has storm-force winds created by the fire, either burning or not? (Like e.g. Peshtigo River during The Great Peshtigo Fire)?
  3. The burning area with winds (both storm-force and weaker) created by the fire?
  4. Both burning and nonburning areas with winds (both storm-force and weaker) created by the fire?

On wildfire modelling:
I can’t understand how it is even approximately possible to model e.g. The Great Peshtigo Fire and other potential firestorms from that time. The weather observations were few and far between, the temperatures, winds etc. in the middle or upper atmosphere were not observed at all (e.g., an inversion?), nobody knows where the many small fires united themselves into a firestorm or a non-firestorm conflagration (not even whether or not all the many fires were small), etc. etc.

“Lastly, I don't understand what you mean by - 'A nuclear explosion is a stationary source; some wildfires are extremely mobile.' - As the document is about firestorms…firestorms however do not discriminate against ignition sources, a firestorm is a firestorm no matter what seeded the fire.”

Firestorms do not discriminate against ignition sources, even if they are influenced by the sort of fuels. But some wildfires have burned much greater areas and moved themselves much greater distances than the Hiroshima firestorm. (This statement is not necessarily true compared to an H bomb detonation above a densely populated area, but I hope we do not experience that.)

I have also made comments to the statement: “Although the word is often used to describe any fire which affects a large area…” Also in Norway we have had some wildfires which have affected a large area (albeit dwarfed by e.g. the 1988 Yellowstone Fire) – the biggest since WW2 is named the 2008 Froland Forest Fire[1], which burned about 27 km². I have not seen neither this nor other of Norway’s biggest wildfirest be called “ildstorm” (Norwegian for firestorm)[2], and in English, the Froland fire is rarely called “firestorm”.[3] If the same is true for big wildfires in other countries, the statement should be removed. Pål Jensen (talk) 16:09, 16 July 2014 (UTC)


Survey of the Thermal Threat of Nuclear Weapons[edit]

There is a good table in the above titled 1963 OCD report/office of civil defense document that would be a good addition to this page, written by Jack C. Rogers and T. Miller.

For the comparison section, nuclear weapons have much higher mortality and casualty rates per square kilometer than conventional firebombing, but destroy proportionally smaller amounts of area by fire etc.

Edit dispute about the paper What wildfires have taught us about nuclear winter[edit]

Recently a number of concerted, and coordinated efforts have been made by User:Vsmith, User:binksternet and most recently User:BarrelProof to remove the above mentioned paper and its summary here on this article. User: Binksternet has blanked the section tendentiously but seems to have backed off and got his friend User:BarrelProof to come in. This friend issued the following edit summary rationale for his blanking. Dubious addition with a non-functioning URL and a statement that non-nuclear events produce nuclear winters.

This friend is either trolling or ignorant of what nuclear winter actually is. If you were even a tiny bit familiar with that climate hypothesis, you'd know that you don't need nuclear events, just firestorms to produce a "nuclear winter". Firestorms, which as you know, could be ignited by asteroid impacts, nuclear weapons, conventional incendiaries, lightning starting wildfires etc. Don't believe me? Here are a number of independent peer-reviewed papers, apart from the one under question, stating that very thing you have displayed to be so ignorant of. Nuclear events aren't needed, just firestorms.[1][2]

Lastly, the Harvard Bibcode URL does work! Click on that and you'll get the abstract to "What wildfires have taught us about nuclear winter".[3]

I've noticed a lot of established editors here are operating with prejudiced assumptions and biases that aren't grounded in reality. Perhaps Hollywood is more to your tastes?

Having had to go laboriously educate you all on the matter, I would appreciate if you could undo the section blanking now and save me the trouble.

New year salutations, (talk) 12:57, 31 December 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ A Nuclear Winter's Tale: Science and Politics in the 1980s, Lawrence Badash, page 242-244
  2. ^ Atmospheric effects and societal consequences of regional scale nuclear conflicts and acts of individual nuclear terrorism. Atmos ChemPhys 7:1973–2002 pg 1994 "the injection height of the smoke is controlled by the energy release from the burning fuel not from the nuclear explosion."
  3. ^ Fromm, M.; Stocks, B.; Servranckx, R.; et al. (2006). "Smoke in the Stratosphere: What Wildfires have Taught Us About Nuclear Winter". Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union (Washington, D.C.: American Geophysical Union) 87 (52 Fall Meet. Suppl.): Abstract U14A–04. Bibcode:2006AGUFM.U14A..04F. 
"a number of concerted, and coordinated efforts...": Bullcrap!
From Nuclear winter: Nuclear winter (also known as atomic winter) is a hypothetical climatic effect, most often considered to be a potential threat following a countervalue nuclear war.
Nope - haven't read the paper, just the abstract to a 2006 meeting presentation which was the reference. The abstract was used to support:
Wildfire firestorms which produce pyrocumulonimbus cloud events, "suprisingly frequently" produce "nuclear winter" effects.
which rather silly scarequotism I removed. And the ip has been edit warring to include and now makes rather wild accusations here about those who disagree. Vsmith (talk) 13:37, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Is it "bullcrap" as you put it? I noticed a suspiciously rapid uptake of the issue by "apparently independent" editors all of a sudden in the last day, while before the section had gone completely unchallenged for weeks. Watson would say, that sure would be one mighty big coincidence!
The opportune words from the Nuclear winter article there friend are ..most often considered.. not exclusively!
So you WERE able to read the abstract/get the URL to work. Great, your friend User:BarrelProof apparently was scuppered by it, using that as his rationale for section blanking.
You didn't remove the scarequotes, you blanked the entire section and removed the reference to the paper from the article. I actually would've had no problem with you removing the quotes around "nuclear winter".
Right, now let's assess that "edit warring" claim, shall we? None of us passed the 3 revert rule. While all of you were section blanking, I alone was trying to take your concerns on board and continually altered the section to cater to those concerns, if you made a reasonable argument. It's all right there in the edit history for everyone to see for themselves. Clear evidence that I was attempting to build a consensus with you lot. Instead I got section blanking followed by yet more complete section blanking. (talk) 16:15, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Your conjectures about coordinated efforts are, at least in my case, unfortunately incorrect. The person who brought this article to my attention was actually you, not Binksternet. I am merely stalking Binkster's Talk page, so when you accused Binkster of bad behavior on his Talk page, it popped up in my watchlist and I hobbled over to take a look at this little edit skirmish. My impression was that Binkster was clearly trying to help Wikipedia and that you were exhibiting combative behavior. I am pleased that you now have decided to discuss the issue here on the Talk page, so things can be sorted out more properly.
There are also some very interesting further related remarks at User talk:Binksternet#Bias against IP user.
As you quoted, I referred to insertion of a "non-functioning URL" in my edit summary. That URL was When I try to access that URL, I get redirected simply to, which has nothing of obvious relevance on the page.
BarrelProof (talk) 17:11, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
When I'm confronted by a URL which doesn't appear to work as intended, I plug it into the Wayback Machine. In this case the trick works, providing a collection of conference paper briefs here. The relevant brief says:

Forest fire experts have conjectured and nuclear winter investigators have theorized that extreme fire storms could inject smoke and other emissions into the lowermost stratosphere. Confirmation of this phenomenon has now been realized with the discovery of forest fire smoke in the stratosphere and the link between these smokes (and subsequently other biomass burning emissions) and extreme pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) storms. Since the discovery of stratospheric smoke in 1998, research into the pyroCb phenomenon has revealed that such occurrences are surprisingly frequent, they occur in both boreal and austral hemispheres, they cause hemispheric temperature perturbations, and they typically have impacted remote sensing data in unexpected ways that call for a new look at old archives. In this paper we will discuss the pyroCb discovery, its noteworthy eruptive manifestations, the impact on stratospheric aerosols, and correlation with stratospheric warming/tropospheric cooling. In addition we will revisit historical cases of aerosol layers in the stratosphere, originally ascribed to volcanoes, from a pyroCb perspective.

I didn't see this as sufficiently conclusive with regard to how far into nuclear winter we are taken by smoke from forest fires. In any case, the topic here is firestorm, not forest fires or nuclear winter. Binksternet (talk) 17:18, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Again I ask, what argument is there for completely blanking the following? Wildfire firestorms which produce pyrocumulonimbus cloud events, "suprisingly frequently" generate minor "nuclear winter" effects. [1] The above was the most recent consensus building alteration I made, while I was allegedly "edit warring". I did that courteous alteration as I recognized you were ignorant and falsely operating under the impression that Nuclear winter conditions are either an on-or-off type of thing. It isn't, there is a scale, just like global warming.
After that, I thought this was a settled issue, but instead your fan - Mr. BarrelProof arrived, who, like you, blanked the section again, but now arguing that the URL doesn't work, even though the hyperlink to the Harvard hosted abstract ALWAYS worked and it would merely have been a matter of more prominently linking to that, or to So really this still does not explain why you guys behaved in a way, that made you feel that you could go section blanking a summary of a peer-reviewed scientific paper.
There was ZERO effort on your part to build a consensus, just antagonistic blanking borne out of ignorance of the topic, followed by your fans taking up the game of blanking once you approached the 3 revert rule limit. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:52, 31 December 2014‎ (UTQ)


  1. ^ Fromm, M.; Stocks, B.; Servranckx, R.; et al. (2006). "Smoke in the Stratosphere: What Wildfires have Taught Us About Nuclear Winter". Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union (Washington, D.C.: American Geophysical Union) 87 (52 Fall Meet. Suppl.): Abstract U14A–04. Bibcode:2006AGUFM.U14A..04F.