Studies: Wildfires worse due to global warming

Scientists have been warning for years
Associated Press
May 19, 2014

The devastating wildfires scorching Southern California offer a glimpse of a warmer and more fiery future, according to scientists and federal and international reports.

In the past three months, at least three different studies and reports have warned that wildfires are getting bigger, that man-made climate change is to blame, and it's only going to get worse with more fires starting earlier in the year. While scientists are reluctant to blame global warming for any specific fire, they have been warning for years about how it will lead to more fires and earlier fire seasons.

"The fires in California and here in Arizona are a clear example of what happens as the Earth warms, particularly as the West warms, and the warming caused by humans is making fire season longer and longer with each decade," said University of Arizona geoscientist Jonathan Overpeck. "It's certainly an example of what we'll see more of in the future."

Since 1984, the area burned by the West's largest wildfires — those of more than 1,000 acres — have increased by about 87,700 acres a year, according to an April study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. And the areas where fire has been increasing the most are areas where drought has been worsening and "that certainly points to climate being a major contributor," study main author Philip Dennison of the University of Utah said Friday.

The top five years with the most acres burned have all happened in the last decade, according to federal records. From 2010-2013, about 6.4 million acres a year burned on average; in the 1980s it was 2.9 million acres a year.

"We are going to see increased fire activity all across the West as the climate warms," Dennison said.

That was one of a dozen "key messages" in the 841-page National Climate Assessment released by the federal government earlier this month. It mentioned wildfires 200 times.

"Increased warming, drought and insect outbreaks, all caused by or linked to climate change have increased wildfires and impacts to people and ecosystems in the Southwest," the federal report said. "Fire models project more wildfire and increased risks to communities across extensive areas."

Likewise, the Nobel prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted in March that wildfires are on the rise in the western U.S., have killed 103 Americans in 30 years, and will likely get worse.

The immediate cause of the fires can be anything from lightning to arson; the first of the San Diego area fires, which destroyed at least eight houses, an 18-unit condominium complex and two businesses, seemed to start from sparks from faulty construction equipment working on a graded field, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff.

But the California fires are fueled by three major ingredients: drought, heat and winds. California and Arizona have had their hottest first four months of the year on record, according to National Weather Service records. Parts of Southern California broke records Thursday, racing past 100 degrees. For the past two weeks the entire state of California has been in a severe or worse drought, up from 46 percent a year ago, according to the U.S. drought monitor.

"With the drought this year, we're certainly going to see increased frequency of this type of event," Dennison said. "Because of the drought the fuels (dry plants and trees) are very susceptible to burning."

Another study last month in Geophysical Research Letters linked the ongoing drought to man-made climate change. Other scientists say that is not yet proven.

Scientists will have to do a lot of time-consuming computer simulations before they can officially link the drought to climate change. But Overpeck said what is clear is that it's not just a drought, but "a hot drought," which is more connected to man-made warming.

The other factor is the unusual early season Santa Ana winds, whose strength is a key factor in whipping the flames. So far, scientists haven't connected early Santa Ana to climate change, Dennison said.

Comments

Dinghy Gal

Bull crap!

Contango

"Strongest El Nino in 17 years brewing":

"If El Niño returns, the American West and Southwest could see major relief next winter from the long-lasting, punishing drought," said climatologist Bill Patzert,"

http://www.oregonlive.com/weathe...

Oughta throw some cold water on the above story.

We don't even understand the mechanism behind Pacific water warming and cooling, but AGW is a REALITY. Yea right.

2cents

And I thought they were caused by over construction, eucalyptus leaves that burn like growing tar fields along with a couple of arsonists that ignite everything. Oh, the global warming thing, well you better send the EPA to China and India and get them on board!

Contango

Re: Man-made global warming.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.

It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

- Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister

Al Gore is now worth an estimated $230M through the sale of his spreading of global warming er...climate change...er...climate disruption dogma.

coasterfan

Or, if you can find 10,850 scientific experts who all agree that climate change is real and that mankind is definitely making it worse, you can finally put to rest the lies/propaganda put forth by the Climate Change Deniers.

Less intelligent people will believe the anti-science non-experts, who have no training in climatology and who have done no research, and who instead cite a non-existent conspiracy, for which they ALSO have no evidence.

Sorry, but I think I'll go with the smart people, the ones with all the research-based factual information - especially as the effects of climate change are all around us, and especially as it is the climate change DENIERS who have obvious financial motives to deny its reality.

Contango

Re: "10,850 scientific experts who all agree that climate change is real"

REAL science is not based solely on consensus. it's about being able to PROVE the theory empirically which has not been done.

Al Gore is now worth 50 times more than when he stepped down as VP. As a good & caring progressive, shouldn't he "redistribute" some of that wealth?

--------------

So how's the house selling goin'? Any bites?

Nor'easter

Answer this. What was done 12,000 years ago when we were covered with ICE FOUR MILES HIGH(OVER 20,000 FEET) to cause your claimed global warming?

bnjjad

Correction - Al Gore made $70 million from the sale of his Current TV network to Al Jeezera. He made an additional $30 million from Stock Options from his Apple Shares. He also serves on several Silicon Valley boards who pay him. He does get paid handsomely for speaking engagements, which are no doubt regarding Climate Change, however they are small potatoes compared to the above.

Also, his profits from his book and films goes to his Non-Profit.

Contango

"How Al Gore's Net Worth Caught Up With Mitt Romney's"

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/20...

ski

Here are Joe Bastardi's reflections on earth day, which summarize his perspective, including facts and graphs to support his thesis. Bastardi is probably the foremost forecaster in the US, consistently getting it right. Follow the link to see for yourself. Sadly, all mainstream and liberal media continue to print only one side of the story. http://patriotpost.us/opinion/25107

eriemom

Yep. And he was fired because of his antiscience
opinions.

Contango

Re: "antiscience (sp) opinion"

Is that a euphemism for politically correct?

holysee

LOVE SEEING THE WINGNUTS DENY SCIENCE TO MAKE THEM FEEL BETTER

anthras

As holysee and coasterfan seem to be the two most intelligent persons posting I would hope they could answer a question that I have been thinking about.

The scientist tell us that the glacial grooves on Kelleys Island are about 20,000 years old and were caused the glaciers as they moved across the earth during the ice age. This would seem to indicate that this part of the world was buried under glaciers at that time .

I was wondering if there were a lot of gas powered suvs at that time and were there jet planes and approx. how many coal fired generating plants were there at that time as well as other things that the scientists have advised that cause global warming?

Also I would like to know what is the average temperature of the earth for the last million years?

One last thing do you feel that of all the scientist studying the weather that most are supported by government grants, employed by a liberal collage or receiving some other government support as it does not seem that there would be much of a demand for a weather scientist in the private sector? Also why have they for the most part changed the condition we have from global warming to climate change?

freespeech1

What a crock. Its already been proven that liberal tree hugger policies have caused this. So much underbrush not being managed has made it easier for fires to spread and quickly. Spotted owl anyone?

ram03

No scientist has ever reproduced their theory of climate change in a lab. Only in computer models. My computer can simulate all kinds if things that are not real. If this were true science then it would be rather easy to show real physical models to support your theory.

coasterfan

Frankly, it's stunning to watch the denial in real time. There is a great 'real physical model' in action. It's called the World. Entire ice shelves are calving in the Antarctic. Hurricane Sandy hit far north in the NY area, as a result of changing ocean currents, as a result of climatic change. The landslide in Washington State? Climate scientists predicted that one 6-7 years ago. Unending drought in California while monsoon-like conditions are in Florida. The worst winter in Ohio in 36 years.

The deniers don't understand the difference between weather and climate, and say stupid things like "we've always had extremes in weather". The point they are missing is that CLIMATE looks at the big picture, and looks for longterm trends. Only an idiot who cannot read and understand a bar graph showing steadily rising global temperatures over the past 50 years would deny it is real.

100 years from now, the deniers will stand on our coastline denying climate change is real, as the tide washes slowly over their head. Until then, they are content to merely bury their heads in the sand.

Contango

Re: "The deniers don't understand the difference between weather and climate,"

lol.

Neither do the global warming dogmatists:

WH advisor John "Podesta suggested they should 'look out your window and you'll begin to feel the effects.'"

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/...

Nor'easter

Answer this. What was done 12,000 years ago when we were covered with ICE FOUR MILES HIGH(OVER 20,000 FEET) to cause your claimed global warming?

Darwin's choice

"Frankly,it's stunning to watch the denial in real time"... obamacare.

Contango

Re: "Another study last month in Geophysical Research Letters linked the ongoing drought to man-made climate change. Other scientists say that is not yet proven."

So what are the percentage of contributions between natural and man-made; 60-40, 80-20, 95-5?

Did any of those geniuses happen to notice that much of CA & AZ is desert?

coasterfan

Fewer than 3% of scientific experts deny that climate change is real and manmade, and it's well-documented that the few "expert" deniers were hired by oil/coal companies - who obviously have a huge financial stake in denying that their product contributes to the Climate Change problems.

The long-feared levels of Carbon Dioxide have passed the 400 ppm "point of no return" level. Exactly what do you deniers think is causing the problem, if it's not us humans burning fossil fuels. This isn't new science, kids. We've known about it for 40+ years.

Saw a great editorial cartoon that sums up the utter cluelessness of the Republican camp on this topic. It showed Marco Rubio standing on a Flat Earth, exclaiming that rising sea levels due to global warming wouldn't be a problem, because the excess water would just flow off the edges of the earth.

The more intelligent heads of the Republican Party have finally begun admitting that Climate Change is real (Rubio is not in that camp), although they still refuse to admit that mankind is the main cause of the problem. Unfortunately, the rank and file conservatives among us have been trained to champion studipity, to think that everything is a conspiracy, and to demonize science and education. That's what happens when you watch the Alternative History Channel (Fox News).

I say we leave them out of the discussion as to how to fix the problem, since they aren't smart enough to even realize there is a problem.

ski

have you ever read Joe Bastardi's resume? He is the real deal as a climatologist and uses real world examples to show that climate change has been going on for quite some time and is a result of identifiable natural phenomenon. for those of us that have been around for 60-70 years, we see repetition in the current weather patterns from the 50's an 60's.I am not getting my fix from FOX or any other news channel, but by reading from both sides of the argument. This is science, not politics and scientists are cotinuing to develop new ideas every day, so to say that this is settled science is just another way to say "stop thinking and agree with my agenda". I choose not to do that. By the way, the 3% number comes from a survey that requested responses from 3000 scientists and received 75 responses, hardly a massive agreement by all scientists. Be careful of what you choose to accept to believe. If you would sit back and consider this as science instead of religion, perhaps you would gain an understanding of how the world works.

grumpy

Re: "Saw a great editorial cartoon"

So you praise an editorial cartoon that taught you? Editorials are not facts, and cartoon? That speaks volumes about what you consider proof. I now understand better where your "facts" come from. Thanks for sharing you "research".

When will the global warming folks be going to China, India and various third world countries and inform them that they have to stop burning dried dung and/or coal to keep warm and cook their food, along with not using coal in the power plants? The US has now reduced their C02 emissions to below 1992 levels. Those third world countries don't have any controls on their coal burning plants let alone the dried dung burning the people living in huts and tents. The cheapest easiest most effective clean up procedures are those in places where there are no controls, not where 90% of polution has been cleaned already. But where do these global warmists want to start? Where the controls already are in effect, not where there are none.

BTW I do think that there is man made changes... to a point... but then I realize that to clean where it has already been cleaned while letting othes not be bothered with cleaning is rather foolish. It is not a closed environment in the US... there are no walls or ceiling to keep it apart from the rest of the world.

Cleaning something another 50%, that is already 90% clean, brings it to 95% clean. Cleaning 50% of something that is 0% clean cleans it a heck of a lot more of the crap out of the air and water. But then then that uses logic and numbers... far beyond some folks abilities, or so it seems.

Contango

Re: "The long-feared levels of Carbon Dioxide have passed the 400 ppm "point of no return" level."

Then according to the global warming dogmatists - we're scr*wed.

How and why have CO2 levels been elevated in Earth's past?

CO2 levels have been observed rising on Mars. Evidence of a fossil fuel burning underground civilization?

What have you done to reduce your "carbon footprint"?

Given up eating meat, bicycling to work, raising and lower your thermostats, replaced all your house's lights with LEDs, bought several copies of "An Inconvenient Truth" and distributed them, et. al. ?

Nor'easter

Answer this. What was done 12,000 years ago when we were covered with ICE FOUR MILES HIGH(OVER 20,000 FEET) to cause your claimed global warming?

jazzbo

Neil deGrasse Tyson says that there's global warming.

sugar

I love science, usually would be glued to a program like cosmos, but sadly so much PC garbAge and a leftist agenda that it is difficult not to laugh. De Grasse on one hand talks about climate change throughout history, but fails to mention the cause, no SUV's, or coal fired electric plants back then, yet the climate changed. How is that possible???

jazzbo

Watch Cosmos A Spacetime Odyssey tonight .
" The Immortals "
9:00 pm NatGeo - Ch 062 .
If you really want an answer.

William Jeffers...

The Universe is roughly 13.8 Billion years, the Milky Way about 13.2 Billion, Earth and our solar system about 4.5 Billion years old. Earth remained lifeless for the first Billion years or so and since has had 3 cataclysmic events wiping out most of life on the planet each time and it will most certainly happen again. There are 17 Billion Earth like planets just in the Milky Way and roughly 500 million galaxies in an ever expanding and accelerating universe. In short, we are nothing...and we are all inevitably doomed!

This thought is depressing for some, but for me...well...I'm married. :)

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