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2012-12-04. Climate Models Project Increase in U.S. Wildfire Risk |

posted Dec 24, 2012, 12:10 PM by Alan Gould
NASA RELEASE: 12-419. Relevant to GSS Ecosystem Change, chapter 4. Excerpt:  WASHINGTON -- Scientists using NASA satellite data and climate models have projected drier conditions likely will cause increased fire activity across the United States in coming decades. Other findings about U.S. wildfires, including their amount of carbon emissions and how the length and strength of fire seasons are expected to change under future climate conditions, were also presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. Doug Morton of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., [said] "Climate models project an increase in fire risk across the U.S. by 2050, based on a trend toward drier conditions that favor fire activity and an increase in the frequency of extreme events"…. The analysis by Morton and colleagues used climate projections, prepared for the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to examine how dryness, and therefore fire activity, is expected to change. …in the next 30-50 years… high fire years like 2012 would likely occur two to four times per decade by mid-century, instead of once per decade under current climate conditions. Through August of this year, the U.S. burned area topped 2.5 million hectares (6.17 million acres), …short of the record 3.2 million hectares (7.90 million acres) burned in 2011, but exceeds the area burned during 12 of the 15 years since record keeping began in 1997…. For images and additional information on this research, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/climate-fire.html  …. Read the full article: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/dec/HQ_12-419_Fire_and_Climate.html. See also U.S. official: Wildfires to get more destructive, by Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman