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International Journal of Wildland Fire
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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 16(3)

Fire scars reveal source of New England’s 1780 Dark Day

Erin R. McMurry A C, Michael C. Stambaugh A, Richard P. Guyette A, Daniel C. Dey B

A Department of Forestry, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.
B US Forest Service, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.
C Corresponding author. Email: ermfcd@mizzou.edu
 
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Abstract

Historical evidence suggests that great wildfires burning in the Lake States and Canada can affect atmospheric conditions several hundred miles away (Smith 1950; Wexler 1950). Several ‘dark’ or ‘yellow’ days, as such events are commonly called, have been recorded, often with anecdotal or direct evidence pointing to wildfires as the source (Plummer 1912; Ludlum 1972). One such ‘dark day’ occurred across New England in 1780, a year in which people were technologically unable to confirm the source of such a phenomenon. Here we combine written accounts and fire scar evidence to document wildfire as the likely source of the infamous Dark Day of 1780.

   
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