Climate change has doubled Western U.S forest fires. Indisputably, global warming does have a huge impact on temperature, precipitation levels, and soil moisture. As global warming is getting more serious, moisture and precipitation levels are changed remarkably and wet areas are becoming wetter and dry areas are becoming drier. Consequently, the temperatures in spring and summer get higher, coupled with earlier spring snowmelt, which increases the likelihood of drought and a rather lengthy and intense wildfire season. The Campfire in 2018 in northern California is the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in state history. Studies found that climate change has doubled Western U.S forest fires during the last 13 years and the average wildfire season lasts over 78 days.
More and more studies tracked the ebb and flow of ecosystem changes on a worldwide scale. Large-scale and long-lasting changes in the ecosystems and deforestation might be the cause of the higher frequency of forest fires.
Researches found that earlier snowmelt in the spring and summer has led to hot dry conditions of the forest, which boosts the fire activity in some sections. And the cost of wildfire is much beyond property damage. Air pollution would be considerably increased, which exacerbated lung diseases in individuals as well.
Wildfires Are on the Rise
“[P]rojections show that an average annual 1 degree Celsius temperature increase would increase the median burned area per year as much as 600 percent in some types of forests […] Wildfire risk depends on a number of factors, including temperature, soil moisture, and the presence of trees, shrubs, and other potential fuel[…] Warmer, drier conditions also contribute to the spread of the mountain pine beetle and other insects that can weaken or kill trees, building up the fuels in a forest. ” ( C2ES, Wildfires and Climate Change)
The Economic Costs of Wildfires
“Since 2000, 11 forest fires in the United States have caused at least $1 billion in damages each, mainly from the loss of homes and infrastructure, along with firefighting costs. The 2017 wildfire season is well above average…In 2015, wildfires burned more than 10 million acres across the United States…The costliest fires occurred in California, where more than 2,500 structures were destroyed…” -Quote from C2ES, Wildfires and Climate Change
“ Some dry grasslands may be less at risk of catching fire because the intense aridity is likely to prevent these grasses from growing at all, leaving these areas so barren that they are likely to lack the fodder for wildfires to start …The risk to property owners is particularly acute in areas at the “wildland-urban interface.” In California alone, this area includes more than 5 million homes in coastal southern California… A counterintuitive aspect of mountain forest wildfires is their ability to increase flash flood risk. The loss of vegetation from wildfires and the inability of burned soil to absorb moisture can cause flash floods in lower-lying areas when rains do come in the days and months following fires..” (Union of Concerned Scientist, Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?” －quote from Union of Concerned Scientist, Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?
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