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Extreme fires break out 25 percent more often. This is the result of climate change

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Climate change has significantly increased the risk of extreme wildfires, according to a study recently published in Nature. Experts from the Californian research center Breakthrough Institute analyzed data from 2003-2020.

Scientists at the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, California, found that human-caused climate change has increased the frequency of “extreme” fires by an average of 25 percent compared to the pre-industrial era. The conclusions were published in the journal Nature.

Experts analyzed fires that broke out between 2003 and 2020. Using machine learning, they checked the relationship between higher average air temperature, dry conditions and the fastest-spreading fires, i.e. those that burn over 4,000 hectares a day.

Extreme fires

Using data from recorded fires, scientists measured the likelihood of a given fire becoming “extreme.” They then used computer models to calculate how much rising average global temperatures increased this risk. The study took into account variables such as: rainfall, wind speed and humidity.

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Scientists have calculated that the risk of extreme wildfires could increase by an average of 59 percent by the end of this century under a “low carbon” scenario. This scenario assumes that the average global temperature will not exceed the threshold of 1.8 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average.

Climate changeAdam Ziemienowicz/PAP

Hawaii and Canada on fire

California has experienced a number of extreme wildfires in recent years. In the fire that broke out in 2020, more than 30 people died and several million hectares were consumed by flames. The fire, dubbed the Camp Fire, killed 86 people. It erupted in November 2018.

The publication comes after at least 115 people died in the fires in Hawaii. In Canada, the fire has forced 200,000 people to flee their homes.

A 2022 report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said wildfires are becoming more frequent due to warmer and drier conditions caused by climate change, including in regions not traditionally vulnerable to them.

Destruction after fires in HawaiiReuters

Science Alert, AFP, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/HAWAII WING CIVIL AIR PATROL/HANDOUT



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