Wildfires, warming connection seen

New study suggests "human impacts" on climate adds risk for future

December 12, 2015

Western wildfire responders, stretched thin by the 2015 and 2014 seasons, won't get a breather any time soon unless human-caused global warming is arrested according to new research.

The study's introduction declares, "the overall probability of western U.S. wildfires has increased due to human impacts on the climate." The authors explained "understanding how long-term global change affects the intensity and likelihood of extreme weather events is a frontier science challenge."

Focusing on the 2014 fire season in California, researchers found extreme fire risk across the entire state is accelerating since the early part of this century and cannot be explained simply by natural climate variability.

The study predicts man-made global warming is likely to be one of "the causes that will exacerbate the areal extent and frequency of extreme fire risk." The highly technical research considered the impact of both increases in wet weather, which produces undergrowth that is consumed by fires, and drought conditions.

The study results are included in the second chapter of Explaining Extreme Events of 2014: From a Climate Perspective, published this month by the America Meteorological Society. (See the link below to read the entire study.) In addition to climate change, researchers also considered other human-caused reasons such as land-use differences and considered its impact on extreme events.

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Related Links:

Explaining Extreme Events of 2014: From a Climate Perspective


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