Wildfires and Climate Change

Study links wildfires to climate change.

1 minute read

October 24, 2016, 12:00 PM PDT

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark


Tom Reichner / Shutterstock

The west has seen years of fires growing in severity and cost. "Records are routinely smashed — for acreage burned, homes destroyed, firefighter lives lost and money spent fighting back flames," according to a story in Five Thirty Eight by Cally Carswell. Researchers have looked into whether or not, and how much the burning of the American west is caused by climate change. "Wildfire is particularly responsive to temperature increases because heat dries things out." But if heat is one factor, it's far from the only one. Many have linked the growing cost of firefighting to irresponsible development. "Actual fire behavior is influenced by both large-scale processes, such as climate, and smaller factors, such as the slope of a hillside or the strength of the wind on a given day," Carswell reports.

According to the findings of Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, "Warming has exacerbated the effects of a dry spell that would almost certainly have occurred as part of the natural drought cycle even if we hadn’t been loading the atmosphere with carbon." They go further to say that, while climate change is not the only reason for wildfires in the west, it is responsible for some of the destruction.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 in Five Thirty Eight

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