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Wildfire Increase Linked to Climate Change
Rising temperatures throughout the West have stoked an increase in large wildfires over the past 34 years as spring comes earlier, mountain snows melt sooner and forests dry to tinder, scientists reported Thursday.
...the changing climate was the most important factor driving a four-fold increase in the average number of large wildfires in the Western United States since 1970, the researchers concluded.
"Lots of people think climate change and the ecological responses are 50 to 100 years away," said research team member Swetnam. "But it's not 50 to 100 years away. It's happening now in forests through fire."
America’s public lands have undergone radical changes during the last century due to the suppression of fires and a lack of active forest and rangeland management. In healthy forests, low-intensity fires help rejuvenate habitat by clearing out underbrush and small trees, leaving an open forest with strong, fire-resistant, mature trees. Today, the forests and rangelands of the West have become unnaturally dense, and ecosystems have suffered.
When coupled with seasonal droughts, these unhealthy forests are vulnerable to unnaturally severe wildfires. They are overloaded with the fuels for fires in underbrush and small trees. A large, catastrophic fire can release the energy equivalent of an atomic bomb and destroy, rather than renew, our forests.
"It all fits together," said climate researcher Anthony Westerling, who led the research while at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. "The [fire] seasons do start earlier and run longer. It is consistent with a changing climate."
Originally posted by dave_54
The news article is misleading and does not report what the research paper claims. The corresponding editorial about this paper in Science Magazine also contradicts the actual paper.
The original research article says ...
Originally posted by Chakotay
Deer and Elk used to roam by the tens of millions in the California foothills. So did Native "Habitat Managers". Cut down the oak forests, graze cattle, introduce non-native invasive weeds, then export the cattle business and abandon the grasslands- and BAM! Climate in a holistic view includes the interaction of complex living systems. Notice the State isn't cutting the weeds along the freeways- due to "lack of funding"? I've seen some cities using "goat mowers"- a step in the right direction, but whitetail Deer (anybody been to Nara, Japan?) are cuter than goats, wildfires or stinky oily mowing machines and 2,4,D sprayers any day IMHO. In nature, Fire Happens- so get smart and don't build in its way.