Friday, June 17, 2011

Global Warming and Those Wildfires

The National Wildlife Federation reports that this spring, in a region marked by exceptional drought (see map), preventing and controlling wildfires has been a losing battle.

Arizonans are currently fighting a raging wildfire that has scorched more than 480 square miles of the state and sent smoke all the way to Iowa. Residents have been evacuated, flights have been diverted on account of heavy smoke, and air quality alerts have been issued

In Texas, more than 400 homes have burned across the state amid severe drought and high winds since November.
Twenty-seven wildfires were reported in a single four day period last month in New Mexico.

The National Climatic Data Center reports that wildfire activity “scorched more than twice the area of any April this century.”
These numbers are scary on their own, but they are even more alarming if taken as a harbinger of things to come. While many are attributing this year’s fire season to La NiƱa, scientists warn that the trend of larger and more severe fires will only get worse as a result of climate change.

While it is not possible to attribute a single weather event to climate change, recent events have many drawing a link between climate change and the surge in droughts, floods, heat waves and other extreme weather events.

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