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Weatherwatch: how typhoons in Korea made California wildfires worse

New study highlights how events in one region can create a domino effect felt thousands of miles away

Last year California suffered its worst series of wildfires, including five of the most destructive six fires on record, all driven by unseasonal winds. New research suggests that the driving winds originated from an unexpected source: typhoons in Korea. The study highlights how events in one region can create a domino effect felt thousands of miles away.

A paper by South Korean and American scientists in Geophysical Letters points the finger at three massive storms that hit the Korean peninsula in quick succession over August and September. The researchers say a single typhoon would have little effect, but the unusual combination of three of them over just 12 days was sufficient to perturb the jet stream. This resulted in an effect known as an atmospheric wave train, which crossed the Pacific and changed the pattern of air flow over North America.

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