Scientists believe that the destructive wildfires scorching acres of California actually reveals an accurate look at a hotter, fierier future. At least three separate studies published in the past three months warn that wildfires are becoming larger and that it is due to man-made climate change. They also predict that the wildfires will only get worse.
The researchers did not point to global warming as the cause of any individual, specific fire. Nevertheless, they did state that global warming would result in an overall increase in fires as well as earlier fire seasons in the future. University of Arizona geoscientist Jonathan Overpeck said: “It’s certainly an example of what we’ll see more of in the future.”
He added: “The fires in California and here in Arizona are a clear example of what happens as the Earth warms, particularly as the West warms, and the warming caused by humans is making fire season longer and longer with each decade.”
According to a study published last month the journal Geophysical Research Letters, since the year 1984 the section torched by the West’s biggest wildfires — over 1,000 acres — have become more frequent with a specific loss increase of approximately 87,700 acres a year. Philip Dennison of the University of Utah, the study’s main author, added that the locations where fires have been increasing the most are areas where drought has become gradually worse and “that certainly points to climate being a major contributor.”
Statistically-speaking the “top five years” with the most acreage lost have all occurred in the past ten years. Federal records also indicate that from 2010-2013, an average of almost 6.4 million acres a year burned. In the 1980s the figure was only 2.9 million acres per year.
Dennison claimed: “We are going to see increased fire activity all across the West as the climate warms.” Other scientists, however, say that is not yet proven. Some scientists also note that more computer simulations will be required in order to “officially link the drought to climate change.”
Overpeck stated that it is not merely drought but “a hot drought,” which is indeed more related to man-made warming. The scientists also agree that another key factor involved with these wildfires is the strong, unusually early Santa Ana winds.
Dennison admits however that they have yet to find a relationship between the early Santa Ana winds to man-made climate change. “With the drought this year, we’re certainly going to see increased frequency of this type of event. Because of the drought the fuels (dry plants and trees) are very susceptible to burning,” he concluded.
Wildfires Worse Due To Global Warming