Climate change increases the risk of forest fires, confirms the assessment of 57 research reports
Australian forest fires can only be a taste of what is to come, according to scientists who claim that man-made climate change is refueling fires.
The current forest fires in Australia, which have killed 24 people so far and at least one billion animals, according to estimates, will become “normal” conditions, the scientists claim.
“The average temperature in Australia in December 2019 was exceptionally warm compared to the historical record and played an important role in the severity and spread of recent forest fires,” said Professor Richard Betts at the Met Office Hadley Center.
“Those temperatures would be normal with global warming by almost 3 degrees C”.
Professor Betts and other British and Australian scientists used an online tool to conduct a rapid response review of 57 peer-reviewed studies on climate change.
All studies have shown links between climate change and increased frequency of “fire brigade” periods with a high fire risk due to high temperatures, low humidity, low rainfall and strong winds.
Rising global temperatures, more frequent heat waves and associated droughts in some regions increase the risk of forest fires by stimulating warm and dry conditions.
Horses in a paddock while the Gospers Mountain Fire has an impact on a property in Bilpin, in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney
“All in all, the 57 articles reviewed clearly show that man-made warming has already led to a worldwide increase in the frequency and severity of firefighters, thereby increasing the risks of a natural fire,” said lead author Dr. Matthew Jones at the University of East Anglia.
“This has been observed in many regions, including the western US and Canada, southern Europe, Scandinavia and Amazonia.
The fires in Sweden in 2018 were about 10 percent more likely in the current climate than in the pre-industrial climate, said the review, published on the Science Letter online platform.
In the Amazon, climate changes in the fire brigade are now exacerbated by landscape fragmentation caused by deforestation.
Man-made warming also increases the fire risk in other regions, including Siberia and Australia.
The wildfires in Australia, which have killed 27 people and scorched more than 10 million hectares of land, still rage over parts of New South Wales and Victoria in the southwest.
Image on January 2, 2020, shows, a large fire burning in northeastern Tasmania. The fire is part of a network of suspect fires in the Fingal area that have burned more than 6,600 hectares
The fires had killed an estimated half a billion animals by January 4, the number of which was expected to continue to rise.
However, there are also indications that people have considerable potential to determine how this fire risk translates into fire activity, says Dr. Jones, particularly through decisions about land management and sources of ignition.
“Ultimately, society as a whole must carefully consider how it manages its relationship with fire in the” wildland-urban interface “where urban and natural areas come together,” he told MailOnline.
‘The key to minimizing risk is managing fuel taxes in areas where people come into close contact with more and more fire-sensitive vegetation.
Fire approaches the village of Nerrigundah, Australia in December. The small village is one of the hardest hit by the devastating forest fires in Australia, with about two-thirds of the homes destroyed and a 71-year-old man killed
In December a 70 meter high flame wall appeared in the Blue Mountains, northwest of Sydney
“Embedding communities in forests exaggerates their risk of being terribly affected by forest fires when they inevitably occur – so building further and further into forests is a bad idea.”
California also suffered a series of forest fires last year, which burned more than 100,000 hectares of land.
The fire seasons are on average about 20 percent longer each year, especially in forest areas with closed awnings, the assessment said.
A kangaroo jumps in a field amidst smoke from a forest fire in Snowy Valley on the outskirts of Cooma on January 4
Fire and thick smoke cover the Australian village of Nerrigundah in New South Wales with a hellish hue of red
A rescuer approaches a stray koala to offer him some help. The New South Wales government has dropped sweet potatoes and roots on forest floors to offer animals something to eat
“Forest fires cannot be prevented and risks are increasing due to climate change,” said Professor Iain Prentice at Imperial College London.
“This makes it urgently necessary to consider ways to reduce the risks to people.
“Land planning must take into account the increasing risk in the fire department.”
“Fire weather occurs naturally but is becoming increasingly serious and widespread due to climate change,” said Professor Betts.
Controlled fire flames burn tree trunks while firefighters work on building a containment line near a natural fire near Bodalla, Australia
Fire burns peat land and forest in Sebangau National Park on September 14, 2019 in the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
‘Limiting global warming to far below two degrees Celsius would help prevent a further increase in the risk of extreme firefighting.
Scientists want to keep this average temperature rise below 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) this century, as laid down in the Paris Agreement in 2015.
Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Exeter, Imperial College London, with Office Hadley Center – a government-supported and CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, a division of Australia’s scientific research agency.
The 57 peer-reviewed articles have been published since the fifth assessment report of the IPCC in 2013.
Science Letter is a new online platform for scientists to collect and assess current scientific knowledge.
HOW WILDFIRES BEGIN
The amount of land in North America that is destroyed every year by forest fires will increase according to new research (file photo)
The ‘Thomas Fire’ destroyed 281,893 hectares in California last December.
In addition, the British Columbia Nazko Complex Fire used more than a million hectares last year, making it the largest ever recorded in the province.
But the amount of land destroyed every year by forest fires will only increase in western and northern North America in the coming years, according to a new report published in the journal Plos One.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, up to 90 percent of forest fires in the US are caused by people.
These fires can be initiated by unguarded campfires, piles of burning debris, randomly discarded cigarettes or arson.
The remaining tenth of the forest fires that were not started by humans are attributed to lighting or lava.