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February 2 2013

Scientists See Insect Outbreaks From Space


It’s become a destructive cycle in the western U.S.: Warmer temperatures and drought conditions prolong the life cycle of mountain pine beetles, allowing them to prey on the pine, spruce and fir trees that blanket the mountains. The trees turn reddish-brown before dying off–a phenomenon the National Park Service deemed “an epidemic stretching from Canada to Mexico.” There’s widespread concern that such tree mortality creates an excellent fuel source for wildfires.

Until recently, scientists were left to survey the damage from the ground, with little ability to understand the causes and processes.

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