Saturday, 9 January 2010

Flooding starts in National Park after peat fire

The good news that the National Park of Las Tablas de Daimiel begins to be flooded again was confirmed yesterday by EFE. It is hoped that the ongoing peat fire may come to an end this Spring.

Photographic confirmation of the initial flooding is also provided by Tomás Beldad in his blog Salvemos las Tablas.

The wetlands of the Park have been low of water for several decades and very dry (less than 1% of its surface with water) for at least four years. The water arriving now travels from the Tagus river at Guadalajara (more than 150 km away from the Park) via the 1979 Tagus-Segura transfer and a special pipe built in a rush by the authorities.

The peat fire was detected in the area around the Park in August 2009. I provided a rough estimation of the continuous flow of carbon emissions to the atmosphere to be around 10 to 40 ton per day.

This water comes at a time when heavy rains in the region will help to reduce the water losses in the long pipe and speed up the flooding process.

The cold and wet winter in Ciudad Real this year is already helping to reduce the smouldering fire intensity and spread. However, I must insists, the most effective measure has been the large suppression, prevention and compartmentation programme put into practice by the Park authorities since November. The flooding comes on top of all these and will, hopefully, extinguish the fire at some point. This would also allow to regenerate the flora and fauna of the Park.

NOTE: I read with great happiness the EFE journalist refers to the fire as "incendios latentes". This is the first time the Spanish media uses the correct term, which is equivalent to smouldering fires in English. Authorities and press keep misusing the term "autocombusti├│n" which only refers to self-ignition phenomena, one of the many possible initiation events of the peat fires.

NOTE 2: I read that the Spanish Minister of Environment might have hinted today that the fire is already extinguished. I already commented in this blog on the care that needs to be put in too early assessment of the situation. It is well known that peat fire are very difficult to extinguish and in this case, victory cannot be declared until all the peatlands have been completely flooded. I am afraid, it is too early at this stage to declare the fire extinguished. We have to wait until the summer to know. Hope the water keeps coming.

NOTE: Cited in the New York Times via AP!

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