According to a recent report, wildfires worldwide may get worse as global temperatures keep rising. But scientists learned that the situation may soon morph into a vicious circle because the planet’s vegetation can no longer keep the pace with the amount of green house emissions human activities release into the ecosystem.
The research team said that plants and trees’ ability of sucking carbon out of the atmosphere is on a continue decline. As a result, wildfires would be fueled by the warming and provide fuel for the warming instead, researchers believe.
A study trying to find out why wildfires became so costly in recent years found that climate greatly influences wildfires, which usually need dry and hot conditions to burst, or “fire weather,” as study authors put it.
The recent study revealed that there’s a direct link between climate change and wildfires’ behavior. Scientists noted that climate change expands “fire-friendly” seasons, so wildfires became more aggressive and last longer. But the major drawback is wildfires in turn make the planet even warmer and trigger more fire-friendly conditions.
The trend was observed on all continents that struggle with wildfires in summertime except for Australia.
Matt Jolly, researcher working with the U.S. Forest Service’s Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana and co-author of the study, explained that the team was able to create a model of fire weather conditions and places where they may occur. The model, Jolly added, helped researchers have a global view on the trends that influence wildfire across the planet.
For the study, Jolly teamed up with scientists form the U.S. and Australia and had the support of various universities and institutions. The findings revealed that between 1979 and 2013 fire weather season expanded to nearly 19 percent, while the number of areas affected by fire-friendly conditions was also on the rise.
“So globally, each year we’re seeing more areas that are pushing into these unusually long seasons,”
The study, which was published July 14 in the journal Nature Communications, is unique because it managed to provide a global view on the trends influencing wildfire seasons.
Researchers found that Latin America is one of the locations with the worse trends related to wildfires. Its forests and savannas are ravaged by wildfires because fire season changed dramatically in the last 35 years. Fire weather season expanded on the continent by 33 days on average, researchers said.
The team also explained how wildfires can make global warming even worse. They said that trees and plants absorb carbon from atmosphere and release life-giving oxygen. But when a wildfire occurs, the vegetation is turned to ashes and the carbon is released back in the atmosphere thus making the planet warmer.
Image Source: NY Daily News
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