How Climate Change Ignites Wildfires From California to South Africa
The link between climate change and more frequent, severe wildfires is well-known, but two new studies published in Geophysical Research Letters this month provided more insight into exactly how warming temperatures are increasing fire risk around the world.
In fire-weary California, urbanization and global warming are increasing ground temperature along the southern coast, decreasing cloud cover and increasing the risk of wildfires.
Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean and temperate parts of the Southern Hemisphere, it's what comes out of the clouds that causes the problems: Lightning-ignited fires are on the rise and likely to keep rising with global temperatures.
The California study was published May 24 and reported by Columbia University in Phys.org Wednesday.
"Cloud cover is plummeting in southern coastal California," study co-author and Columbia University bioclimatologist Park Williams said. "And as clouds decrease, that increases the chance of bigger and more intense fires."
photo credit: The National Guard