Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wild Fires: Connected to climate change?

Speaking about the vast wild fires occouring in California Ronal Neilson of Oregon State University says:
"This is exactly what we've been projecting to happen, both in short-term fire forecasts for this year and the longer term patterns that can be linked to global climate change,"
According to Neilson (a member of the IPCC) the latest models show less inter-annual variability but more variability within decades.
"The latest models, Neilson said, suggest that parts of the United States may be experiencing longer-term precipitation patterns -- less year-to-year variability, but rather several wet years in a row followed by several that are drier than normal."
In California, many severe impacts from climate change are expected, including more deaths duting prologed heat waves, less snowpack in the siera nevada, and more wild fires.

With regards fires, a number of significant studies have been completed in recent years.

Recent research by climatologists, biologists, geographers, and fire ecologists has revealed that fires in western forests are more strongly linked to climate than was previously thought. But the specific linkages are as yet poorly understood. More practically, from a landmanagement perspective, it is not easy to sort through the scientific findings and pick out the most useful ones for planning and on-the-ground management.

The questions have become urgent with successive record-setting fire seasons in 2005 and 2006. A key study published in Science in August of 2006 used real-time climate records to make a strong link between rising temperatures and increasing wildfire in the northern Rocky Mountains. The researchers, led by A.L. (Tony) Westerling of the University of California at Merced, found that warming temperatures and earlier springs are triggering increased wildfire activity in forests in the northern Rockies.
[UPDATE] Wild fire& Climate Change video.

Related Reading:
Fire Science Digest (A review of recent science on fires and climate change in the US)


Climate Change Action

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