Study: Climate Change Overwhelmingly Responsible for 'Fire Weather'

New research points to global warming as the biggest factor in fueling longer, more destructive wildfire seasons.

1 minute read

November 7, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Paradise, California

According to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, climate change is now the primary driving factor for intensifying wildfire conditions in the western United States, reports Alex Wigglesworth.

The study found that "global warming was essentially two-thirds to 88% responsible for the atmospheric conditions fueling increasingly destructive wildfires," based on an analysis of the vapor pressure deficit. This tracks with other studies showing that 'fire weather days' are happening more frequently, creating longer, sometimes year-round fire seasons.

Fire agencies have had to pivot to new ways of fighting and preventing fires in this changed environment. They include everything from adopting new technologies such as drones and night-flying helicopters to redoubling efforts to focus on fuels management and community outreach and education.

California and the West have faced catastrophic wildfires in recent years, such as 2018's Camp Fire, which ravaged the town of Paradise, killing 85 people and burning roughly 153,000 acres. As fires grow more frequent and destructive, officials struggle to provide fire suppression resources stretched thin across multiple states and support homeowners. Last month, California's Insurance Commissioner announced that the state would bar insurance companies from dropping homeowners in fire-prone areas as an admittedly short-term fix to a growing crisis.

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