wildfire risk has grown nearly everywhere – but we can still influence where and how fires strike

Humans have increased the amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere by 50% before the Industrial Revolution. As a result, the world warmed to 1.1 ° C in the last century and reports suggest that by the end of this century it could have reached 2.7 ° C.

As the weather warms, severe drought, heat, and low humidity become more severe. Climate change Climate and dry conditions – often referred to as “fire air” – are very common and severe, plants dry out and landscapes become more combustible, which increases the likelihood of dangerous wildfires.

Scientists can measure changes in fire conditions (temperature, humidity, rain and wind) to measure fire risk. In the new global analysis, in many regions of the world, weather patterns are increasing at a faster rate than expected.

We used weather forecasts and climate models to assess historical and future trends in fire conditions to determine how conditions change in certain countries and regions. We also analyzed data from other recent studies to assess whether climate change can lead to more wildfires based on the relationship between fire and climate, human land use, and plant growth.

A.D. Since the 1980’s, we have experienced a dramatic increase in the length of fires in many regions (when most fires tend to occur). On average, this season has increased by 27% globally, but the increase has been particularly noticeable in the Amazon, Mediterranean and Western American forests.

Six line graphs comparing the length of a fire season over time in different parts of the world.
Seasons of fire are spreading. They indicate an unprecedented global warming rate compared to pre-industrial climates. CMIP refers to a group of climate models.
Jones and others. (2022) Author presented

The number of days with very high fire conditions – especially when the temperature is high, recent rains and humidity, especially low and winds that can ignite the fire – are 54% more frequent worldwide. As a result, fires that are difficult to control large and heavy fires are now more common than in the past. This is one of the most widespread and harmful causes of recent fires in the Western US or Australia. Extreme fires burn many plants, causing serious damage to ecosystems and releasing more CO₂ into the atmosphere.

Six line graphs comparing the number of days with the ever-changing weather in different parts of the world.
Extra days of the year see major fire conditions in major fire zones.
Jones and others. (2022) Author presented

We also predict that the impact of climate change on the climate will increase in the future, with each additional global warming increasing the risk of wildfires by preparing the landscape to burn.

If global temperatures reach 2 ° C above the pre-industrial average, the climate will be unpredictable compared to the recent history of most regions of the world.

Four world maps showing the global warming season.
Climate change is pushing wildfires into an unprecedented state.
Jones and others. (2022) Author presented

People are still affected by wildfires.

Climate change and its impact on fire conditions, however, are not the only reasons for changes in wildfire activity. Human action has a profound effect on the risk of climate change by pushing or shoving climate change.

Man-made fires are especially important outside the North American Eurasian and North American forests, where there are few dense public centers and many fires caused by lightning. If it is close to cities and towns, it may increase the risk of sparks, fires, or fires from a faulty power line or farm machinery, such as a wildfire.

But unintentionally, wildfires have prevented large-scale conflicts from spreading to landslides. This could include, for example, deforestation or deforestation in Africa, Brazil, and northern Australia.

The practice of combating fires in lands with natural fires – practiced in many parts of the United States, Australia and the Mediterranean – may temporarily suppress the fire, but these forests collect large amounts of plant fuel for more severe wildfires. Especially in times of drought.

Shadows spray water from under the bushes in the forest.
Some ecosystems have been created with fire. In the end, suppressing it will do more harm than good.
Kirsanov Valery Vladimirovich / Shutterstock

Although the ideal climate for wildfires is rising in all parts of the world, human actions still mediate or reverse the effects of climate change in many regions. This may seem encouraging, but the effectiveness of human efforts to weaken the role of climate change will decrease with each additional decade.

It’s hard to imagine how climate change and human activity could be affected by the global catastrophic fires, but one aspect is very clear. Cooling and depleting CO₂ and other greenhouse gases will reduce the risk of wildfires. Fire-fighting weather conditions are increasing faster than expected in wildfire-prone areas, and they are undoubtedly contributing to warmer climates.

Failure to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, the Paris Agreement’s small goal is dangerous. What we do next is important.

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