The massive wildfire in Alberta earlier this month may not be only event of its nature. Many more fires are expected with climate change.
Many previous studies suggest that rising global temperatures will contribute to a growing number of wildfires and we have seen the glimpses of it in the Canadian province Alberta where recently a massive wildfire swept through the community, destroyed more than 2400 homes and caused the evacuation of thousands of people.
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But this is not the end; in fact, it seems to be the commencement of more intense wildfire events throughout the world.
In recent years, massive wildfires hit the forests around the world from Tasmania to Mongolia to Serbia and China. In Russia, 70 million acres were burned in 2012. A large part of western US including California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Montana was also affected by frequent wildfires.
“The warmer it is, the more fires we get.” Mike Flannigan, professor from University of Alberta said, as the temperature was pushed to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Alberta, which is relatively warmer in the month of May in northern Canada. The same is the case with many other parts of the world where temperatures are rising faster than what it was used to be.
“The Alberta wildfires are an excellent example of what we’re seeing more and more of: warming means snow melts earlier, soils and vegetation dries out earlier, and the fire season starts earlier. It's a train wreck.” University of Arizona climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck said.
Not only the number of wildfires has increased but wildfire season is also lasting longer. The length of fire season has increased 19% from 1979 to 2013. Over the past decades, United States has seen a particularly marked increase in the frequency and duration of wildfires in its western region. However, numbers are dropping in terms of acreage burned worldwide and the reason is probably improved firefighting equipment and timely fire suppression.
The weather pattern El Nino is also contributing to the growing number of wildfires. And an increase in wildfire could impact everything from public health to economy.
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