Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A World War One Battlefield Is On Fire

Opening Front of the July 2022 Fire on the Karst

Heat Domes are known to create stable weather and often also very dry air mass due to subsidence (subsiding air mass) in its center. Domes bring very low chances for precipitation, not even allowing clouds or fronts to move across. Air parcels in the center of the heat dome are sinking toward to ground. A heat  dome from western Europe has gradually spread towards central Europe through early July, worsening the ongoing drought with more dry air and more heatwave events. By 19 July the dome had stretched to cover the Karst (Carso in Italian) Plateau at the base of the Adriatic Sea.

The Karst Plateau extends across the border of southwestern Slovenia and northeastern Italy. The plateau rises quite steeply above the neighboring landscape, the steepness is less pronounced on its northeastern side. One disadvantage of the region is the lack of surface water. The soils are fertile enough, and even though there’s quite high rainfall amount annually, rainwater quickly moves through the crevices into the deep ground. Therefore, the surface rapidly dries out during heatwaves and summer months, leading to the worst drought conditions in the region.

Climate-wise, the Karst region is also less exposed to the beneficial climatological effects of the Mediterranean due to its steeply descending slopes towards the Adriatic Sea. However, these slopes are, on the other hand, accelerate the wind flow from the northern Adriatic region inland into western Slovenia.

Former Austrian Strongpoint Jeopardized by the Fire

These winds were the trigger for explosive fire fronts breaking out in this historic area.  Drought is extreme, the heatwave is at its peak, and fire conditions are at an exceptional level. The main wildfire, known as The Karst Fire in Slovenia and the  Carso Fire in Italy, started on 19 July and is located between the cities of Gorizia and Trieste. It has become the biggest wildfire on record since Slovenian became an independent nation in 1991.

The fire has engulfed more than 14 of the Karst's 50 square miles. and set off unexploded ordnance left over from World War I. Twelve battles, with nearly continuous trench fighting in-between, were fought in this sector during the First World War.  Learn more about the fighting on the plateau HERE and HERE.

800 Night Time Firefighters Are Working

During the present crisis, authorities have removed a hundred pieces of unexploded ordnance from the burned areas. During the blazes crossing these areas, huge explosions were heard from these grenades and shells. For this reason, hundreds of firefighter crews were not allowed to battle the fire at its core, as the threat of injuries was too high. The main support came from the aircrews, with helicopters and Canadair planes.

News Photo of Fire Vehicles and Aftermath of the Fire

As of  24 July, wildfires were reportedly being brought under control, thanks to a huge amount of work done by aircrews and ground personnel performing forest cutting and watering the areas along the road to stop the fires from advancing farther. Despite high temperatures and winds that are still strong, the situation seems to be improving as we go to press.

Sources: Compiled from multiple Italian and Slovenian news feeds.

1 comment:

  1. The photo looks like they are releasing poison gas from canisters. The burnt out areas will look like 1917, all desolation.