Climate Change Redefining Wildfires on the Great Plains

Wildfires, exacerbated by climate change, are ravaging the Great Plains with new intensity, according to a new study.
June 18, 2017, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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George Burba

"The grasslands of U.S. Great Plains have seen one of the sharpest increases in large and dangerous wildfires in the past three decades, with their numbers more than tripling between 1985 and 2014," reports Chris Mooney.

Mooney is sharing findings from a study published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal, by lead author Victoria Donovan from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The study found "that the average number of large Great Plains wildfires each year grew from about 33 to 117 over that time period, even as the area of land burned in these wildfires increased by 400 percent."

There's a critical layer of understanding this subject yields: other studies have documented shifts in large wildfires, but always in forested areas. According to the words of Donovan, as quoted in the article, "this is one of the first that documents a shift, at this scale, in an area characterized as a grassland."

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Published on Friday, June 16, 2017 in The Washington Post
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