Sunday, October 2, 2022

Climate change has increased fire risk, but we can still influence how and where they occur

Due to human activities, CO₂ levels in the atmosphere are already 50% higher than in pre-industrial times, despite a momentary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during pandemics. As a result, The world has already warmed by an average of 1.1 degrees CelsiusAnd recent studies indicate that we are on track for a warming of 2.7°C by the end of this century.

As the weather warms up, Episodes of drought, high temperatures and low humidity become more frequent and extreme. In addition to having a significant impact on society, food production and the economy, these weather events also increase the risk of wildfires.

Climate change is drying up vegetation, making landscapes more flammable and thus increasing the potential for larger and more dangerous fires. Changes in fire weather conditions can be measured using fire weather indices, which classify the level of wildfire risk under a given set of atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity, rain and wind).

In a new global analysis we have found that in many regions of the world, Fire season conditions are increasing at an even higher rate than expected by climate models.

longer and more extreme fire seasons

In our study we use meteorological observations and climate models to assess past, present and future trends in pyrometeorological conditions etc. Better understand how fire season risk is changing both globally and in specific countries and regions.

Too We analyze the results of other recent investigations To assess whether changes in weather and climatic conditions, but also in land use and vegetation cover, affect the occurrence and occurrence of future fires.

Our results indicate that the duration of the fire season – the period of the year when most fires occur – has already increased significantly in many regions of the world since the 1980s. Average, Fire season has increased by 27% globallyWith a particularly sharp increase in the Mediterranean basin (55%), the Amazon (94%), and the western forests of North America (70%).

Too, The number of days at risk of an extreme fire season has increased by 54% globally, and by a staggering 132% in the Mediterranean basin and 166% in the Amazon. Because of this, fires are now bigger, more intense and harder to control than before. This is one reason why some of the recent fires in the western US and Australia have been so widespread and damaging. These extreme fires, also called sixth generation fires, megafires or firestorms, have a greater impact on ecosystems and emit more CO₂ into the atmosphere.

Furthermore, in the future, Climate change’s impact on fire risk will increase Substantial enough with each additional degree of global warming.

If the global temperature is 2°C. reaches more than Above the pre-industrial average, fire-prone weather conditions would be greater than those known in recent history for most regions of the world.

Human impact on the occurrence of wildfires, and more

Climate change and its effects on pyrometeorological conditions are not the only factors that determine how and when fires occur. Human actions have a profound effect In which risky meteorological conditions lead to wildfires, either favoring or counteracting the effects of climate change.

fire caused by people They are particularly relevant outside the vast northern forests of Eurasia and North America., where there is very low population density and most of the fires are caused by lightning. In much of the world, sparks from power lines or agricultural machinery, or improper use of fire in agricultural and livestock practices increase the risk of wildfires.

But humans have also reduced the possibility of fire in many areas., making it difficult for flames to spread in naturally fire-prone landscapes. This includes, for example, the conversion of natural vegetation to croplands or urban areas, and is particularly visible in savannas in Africa, Brazil and northern Australia, where the area under burn has decreased in recent decades.

The general approach of full fire extinguishing in naturally fire-prone scenarios – implemented in the Americas, Australia and many regions of Mediterranean Europe – may quell flames for a time, but Excess vegetable fuel also causes accumulation ofContributes to more severe wildfires, especially in times of drought.

Although the climatic conditions that favor wildfires are on an upward trend almost all over the world, the mentioned human actions reduce or even cancel out the climate factors in many regions. This may sound encouraging, but The effectiveness of our efforts to counteract the effects of climate change decreases with each additional tenth of a second.

It’s difficult to predict how the combination of climate change and human activities will affect future wildfire risk, but one thing is very clear: Reducing and reversing the build-up of CO₂ and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will reduce the acceleration of fire risk. Fire season conditions have already escalated faster than expected in many regions, and condemning our planet to further warming through our emissions will undoubtedly exacerbate them even further.

Not keeping global warming below 2°C is the minimum objective of the Paris Agreement An alarming price: the threat of unprecedented wildfires. what we do next, and more.

Stephen H DoereSwansea University; christina sentinaJoint Institute for Biodiversity Research (University of Oviedo-CSIC); John AbtzogluUniversity of California, Merced; Matthew William JonesUniversity of East Anglia, Y pep canadaleCSIRO

This article is facilitated by The Conversation Spain

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