For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: ...Slight temperature increases have extended fire seasons and boosted burned acreage, while housing encroachment into the forest has dramatically increased the cost of fighting fires. Analysts say 16 percent of the West's so-called wildland-urban interface is now developed, and already fire suppression consumes nearly half of the U.S. Forest Service budget. If that encroachment reaches 50 percent of the area where private lands border federal forests, economist Ray Rasker of non-profit research group Headwaters Economics said, the costs would climb to $6 billion — more than the current Forest Service budget. ...The fires that threaten precarious communities are growing more ferocious in part because of climate change, said Dave Cleaves, climate-change adviser for the U.S. Forest Service. "We're seeing more acres burned and more burned in large fires," Cleaves said. ...Warmer summers exacerbate drought, as do quicker-evaporating winter rains and snowmelt. These trends increase forest diseases and pests, such as bark beetles, which have killed millions of acres of trees in the West, creating vast amounts of fuel to feed fires. "The changing climate is not only accelerating the intensity of these disturbances," Cleaves said, "but linking them more closely together." On average, the West's fire season is now two months longer than it was in the early 1970s, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said during testimony before a U.S. Senate committee last month. A 2006 study by University of California-Merced geographer Anthony Westerling put the increase at 78 days..... http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/23/wildfire-season-getting-longer/2581381/. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic [article in USA Today].
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