Report: Forest Growth, Climate Change Driving Wildfires
Researchers at Climate Central say wildfire season across the American West is getting longer and more destructive every year.
The nonprofit group’s recent report notes that the total area burned so far this year is 30 percent larger than average and blames recent ferociously destructive fire seasons on a variety of factors. Fire suppression and forest growth have created more fuel for fires. But it’s a gradual warming in global temperatures that’s creating longer and longer wildfire seasons, said chief climatologist Heidi Cullen.
“We can’t discount the importance of the broader climate context,” Cullen said.
The study finds that unless there’s a reversal in climate change wildfire seasons across the west are expected to worsen. While the study looks at states along the Rocky Mountains and further west, researchers said the trends could also apply to the case of Texas, which saw some of the worst wildfires in the state’s history last year.