Weather Awareness: On the Lookout for Wildfire in the Canadian Rocky Mountains




Walsh, Kristen Anne
Sanseverino, Mary
Higgs, Eric S.

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Mountain Research and Development


Mountains are crucial places in which to observe, experience, and learn about rapid weather and climate shifts, felt to varying degrees in different contexts. Fire lookout observers, immersed in the mountain environments of Alberta, Canada, for 5 to 6 months of the year, many of them returning to the same place for over 3 decades, have a distinctive and little-studied perspective on weather experience and how seasonal changes, sudden weather shifts, and subtle weather irregularities are experienced first-hand in alpine regions. Drawing on recent fieldwork in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, this article sheds light on fire lookout observers' awareness of mountain weather in their everyday lived experience and in their observations of wildfires as severe weather events. A focus on wildfire smoke as one way of experiencing wildfires allows us to touch on the implications of smoke dispersal for communities near to and far from wildfires.




Walsh, K. A.; Sanseverino, M.; & Higgs, E. (2017). Weather awareness: On the lookout for wildfire in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Mountain Research and Development, 37(4), 494-501. DOI: 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-16-00048.1