Thursday, July 30, 2009
Scientists expect wildfires to increase as climate warms in coming decades.
This graph shows the percentage increase in area burned by wildfires, from the present-day to the 2050s, as calculated by the model of Spracklen et al.  for the May-October fire season. The model follows a scenario of moderately increasing emissions of greenhouse gas emissions and leads to average global warming of 1.6 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050. Warmer temperatures can dry out underbrush, leading to more serious conflagrations in the future climate. (Credit: Loretta Mickley, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
ScienceDaily (July 29, 2009) — As the climate warms in the coming decades, atmospheric scientists at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and their colleagues expect that the frequency of wildfires will increase in many regions. The spike in the number of fires could also adversely affect air quality due to the greater presence of smoke.
The study, led by SEAS Senior Research Fellow Jennifer Logan, was published in the June 18th issue of Journal of Geophysical Research. In their pioneering work, Logan and her collaborators investigated the consequences of climate change on future forest fires and on air quality in the western United States. Previous studies have probed the links between climate change and fire severity in the West and elsewhere. The Harvard study represents the first attempt to quantify the impact of future wildfires on the air we breathe.
The complete article at ScienceDaily.com is here.