Wildfires linked to human caused climate change

In the U.S. alone, the National Interagency Fire Center reported that 44,647 wildfires have occurred. Devastatingly, these disasters have burned and affected 5.6 million acres of land. But what is causing these fires? The answer could be closer than you think. 


    Over the years, scientists have recorded the rising temperatures that come with each year, a key indicator of climate change. Forests are drier for longer periods of time because with warming, winter snowpacks melt about a month earlier than usual. Californian scientists such as Illisa Ocko and Tianyi Sun have seen how climate change can actually drive meteorological patterns into shifting away from a region that is usually wild-fire prone. Drought, heat, and greenhouse gas emissions have a corresponding relationship. These variables have dramatically increased their numbers over the years, still escalating as time progresses. These results are not new studies, but they are continuing to prove itself. 


    These consequences are likely to worsen farther down the road, says UCLA professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences Rong Fu. Fu concludes that “the record fire seasons in recent years are only the beginning of what will come, due to climate change, and our society is not prepared for the rapid increase of weather contributing to wildfires in the American West.” U.S. Geological Survey data suggests a dramatic increase in wildfires. In eleven western states, the data recorded that from 1984 to 2000, the average burned area was 1.69 million acres per year for those 17 years. This number has only increased as seen in the next 17 years, where the average burned area was 3.35 million acres per year. The National Interagency Coordination Center reported on the year 2020 where the average reached 8.8 million acres. 8.8 million acres is bigger than the Maryland area. From these reports, it is evident that the wildfires haven’t gotten any better; they have only increased in frequency, size, and destruction.


    The Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences, a journal published on November ninth, 2021, studied how human-induced climate change played a key role in the increase of wildfires. Fu, director of UCLA’s Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering, a collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says, “Our estimates of the human-induced influence on the increase in fire weather risk are likely to be conservative.” Humans partake in many activities that bring climate change into effect such as farming livestock, cutting down forests, and burning fossil fuels. 


    Overall, many reports and studies have proven the cause of wildfires increasing, and it all traces back to human-induced climate change.