Something of mine that ran yesterday in the Albuquerque Journal:
Global warming could dramatically increase the extent of wildfires in New Mexico and across much of the West over the next century, new research suggests.
While unusually dry weather can play a role in big fire years, high temperatures seem more important, especially in New Mexico, according to Philip Mote, a climate researcher at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the new study.
Climate simulations done by Mote suggest significant warming in New Mexico over the next 70 to 100 years, with a resulting four-fold increase in the number of acres burned per year in forest and grass fires.
The study’s authors cautioned against reading too much into the specific numbers generated by their analysis. They said the analysis should be viewed as a framework to help think about fire risks as climate changes rather than a specific prediction of what will happen.
“We’re suggesting that this is just one way of looking at things,” Donald McKenzie, another of the study’s authors, said in a telephone interview.
The research by Mote and his colleagues, published in the current issue of the scientific journal Conservation Biology, is the latest work documenting the link between warm weather and fire and raising the possibility that global warming could make things worse.
“It’s pretty much what we’ve been expecting,” said Thomas Swetnam, a University of Arizona scientist who has been independently studying the fire-climate link. “The results seem to confirm what we are worried about with the warming, that is, more fire.”
(Please let me know if the link above doesn’t work. There have been issues.)
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