14 Nov Wildfires warning
Posted at 10:34h in News
After a summer of severe wildfires decimating thousands of hectares of land on the continent of North America scientists and weather experts have warned there could be a slow but steady growth of such outbreaks throughout the 21st century.
The prediction from the Massachusetts based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is based on the latest available data on the extent of global warming which has seen record breaking heat spread all around the world in recent years.
Research by the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found that the world warmed 0.086 degrees Celsius per decade between 1998 and 2012, more than double the previous estimates. And when the NOAA researchers then included their figures for 2013 and 2014 warming per decade jumped to 0.116 degrees Celsius. Temperatures in the American west have gone up quickly. Since 1970, they have increased by about twice the global average.
And the UCS has warned: “The western wildfire season has grown from five months on average in the 1970s to seven months today. The annual number of large wildfires has increased by more than 75 percent. “Snow melts earlier in the spring. Hotter, drier conditions last longer than they used to. The result is a longer wildfire season and conditions that are primed for wildfires to ignite and spread. “This is a recent and dangerous alteration of the natural, long-standing, and necessary role of wildfires as part of the forest landscape.
The threat of wildfires is projected to worsen over time as rising temperatures lead to more frequent, large, and severe wildfires and longer fire seasons.” The UCS does accept the global warming and the increase in wildfires will slow down at times because of ‘natural cyclical weather occurrences such as El Nino’ occur. But it also predicts that the fuel for the fires is gradually changing in nature noting “that researchers and modellers project that moist, forested areas are the most likely to face greater threats from wildfires as conditions grow drier and hotter.