|Increased Number of Wildfires Expected for Future Decades|
|Written by Michelle Reeves, Four Green Steps|
|Thursday, 21 June 2012 00:40|
Written by Michelle Reeves, Four Green Steps
Wildfires are a natural part of the ecology of certain forests, and some plants thrive from it. However, a new study from the University of California, Berkeley shows that there will be a significant rise in the numbers of wildfires worldwide in the next 30 years. Climate change is thought to disrupt fire patterns.
The U.S is currently fighting two large-scale blazes in California and New Mexico, which makes this study extremely relevant. The researchers used 16 different climate change models which led to the creation of the “most comprehensive projections to date.”
Max Moritz, lead author and fire specialist at UC Cooperative Extension explains their findings:” In the long run, we found what most fear – increasing fire activity across large parts of the planet. But the speed and extent to which some of these changes may happen is surprising.”
Forest fires are not only a threat to human safety and livelihoods, but disrupt native plants and animals that are already struggling with habitat loss. Decades of satellite-based fire records and climate change data paired with several models of future change made it possible to create a gradient of fire-prone and fire-free areas around the Earth and quantify the environmental factors responsible for these fires. With all this information, a model was created to show exactly how climate change will affect fire patterns over the next century.
Whereas most previous similar studies focused on a specific region of the world or used only a few climate models, this one, published in Ecosphere, is the first to project fire patterns for the entire world using so many models.
The results were mixed and uncertain across more than half of the planet, but what is clear is that the western US will definitely experience more wildfires. Mortiz warns that we need to learn to coexist with fire, since it will become a big part of our environment in years to come.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
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