Canada Expert: climate change expected to bring longer wildfire seasons and more area burned

00:31  26 july  2021
00:31  26 july  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Climate change has been a key factor in increasing the risk and extent of wildfires in the Western United States. Wildfire risk depends on a number of factors, including temperature, soil moisture, and the presence of trees, shrubs, and other potential fuel. All these factors have strong direct or indirect ties to Increased drought, and a longer fire season are boosting these increases in wildfire risk. For much of the U.S. West, projections show that an average annual 1 degree C temperature increase would increase the median burned area per year as much as 600 percent in some types of forests.

These Changes Are Needed Amid Worsening Wildfires , Experts Say. The blazes scorching the West highlight the urgency of rethinking fire management policies, as climate change threatens to make things worse. Wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington State have killed at least seven people, and there are growing fears more have died in towns that have been destroyed.CreditCredit Max Whittaker for The New York Times. Millions of Americans are moving into wildfire -prone areas outside of cities, and communities often resist restrictions on development.

VANCOUVER — A combination of drought, heat and drier fuels is causing larger areas to be burned in British Columbia, says an expert.

a group of people wearing costumes © Provided by The Canadian Press

Kira Hoffman, a post-doctoral researcher with University of British Columbia's faculty of forestry, said climate change is expected to create longer wildfire seasons because of more drought, which leads to drier trees and grasses.

All of this leads to longer fire seasons and more area burned even though there are fewer blazes, she said.

BC Wildfire Service information officer Karley Desrosiers said the area burned is "certainly more" this year compared with previous years.

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But experts are now pointing to a connection between the increasing risk of wildfires and warmer ocean According to the WMO, we can expect to see forests in the northern hemisphere burn like they However, the Amazon is getting drier and drier thanks to more and more clearing of land. Deforestation, climate change and the risk of wildfires are all directly linked. "We are dealing with a

The 2020 global wildfire season brought extreme fire activity to the western U.S., Australia, the Arctic, and Brazil, making it the fifth most expensive year for wildfire losses on record. The year began with an unprecedented fire event in Australia, where wildfire smoke in the capital city of While larger areas of the nation have burnt in at least four previous years, the 2019-2020 wildfires affected a larger share of forested and populated areas than previous fires did, resulting in far more impacts to people and ecosystems. According to insurance broker Aon, the 2019-2020 wildfires were Australia’s most

The province has so far seen 4,090 square kilometres scorched so far, which is about four times the five- and 10-year averages, she said in an interview Sunday.

The area burned in 2018 was 13,000 square kilometres compared with 12,000 square kilometres the previous year.

The BC Wildfire Service said there are 258 blazes currently burning in the province.

The number of wildfires is one fewer than Saturday's update, and down from about 300 earlier in the week.

There are now 58 evacuation orders in place, affecting about 4,400 properties.

Another nearly 17,500 properties are on evacuation alert, meaning residents have been told to be ready to leave on short notice.

Desrosiers said the heat wave in late June and early July added to the increase in wildfires by drying out forest fuels.

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What's more , wildfire season - meaning seasons with higher wildfire potential - has universally become longer over the past 40 years. This trend is something Jason Funk, senior climate scientist with UCS, is very worried about. Funk has been researching the impact of climate change on landscapes in the US, and says there is very well documented scientific evidence that climate change has been increasing the length of the fire season , the size of the area burned each year and the number of wildfires .

A Climate Central article about the 2011 fire season noted that “major wildfires require several factors to come together,” and that wildfires are strongly influenced by regional climate conditions, which in turn are influenced by global warming driven by greenhouse gas emissions Given the facts that year after year we are breaking century (or longer ) records in wildfire area burned in the western US, and the warming trends are clear and as expected , the lack of any mention of anthropogenic climate change even with caveats is, in my view, irresponsible and bad journalism.

"The drying that we would see in generally like a month to a month-and-a-half happened in a matter of seven days," she said.

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"So that made things a lot more susceptible to ignition and that's kind of what happened when we got a lot of lightning then that resulted in many new fires."

The province is also battling lack of water with seven areas under Drought Level 4 restrictions, which are the second-most severe on B.C.'s scale of five.

The areas covered include the Salmon, Coldwater and Nicola rivers in the Thompson-Okanagan; the Kettle River, Lower Columbia Basin and West Kootenay Basin; as well as the Eastern Vancouver Island Basin.

Drought Level 4 can adversely impact fish and ecosystems with water shortages being reported in several private groundwater wells, said a news release from the province.

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That would lead to dangerous climate change impacts, experts say. Earlier this year, Greece saw its most deadly wildfire season in Europe since 1900 as it claimed 91 lives. "But I expect that the amount of CO₂ emitted is at most a few percent of what the US burns annually in making Scientists also say the issue of wildfires is even more challenging compared to cutting down carbon emissions

More frequent wildfires that burn larger areas . More severe problems with insects, pests, and diseases threatening trees and crops. Snowpack decline in mountainous regions due to decreased snowfall and shorter winters. First of all: the amount of wild fires and the length of wild fire “ season ” has increased substantially as the atmosphere’s temperature and carbon level does. Global warming results in drought in many areas , such as California, as well as longer , hotter summers. Longer , hotter summers means a longer fire season ( and so obviously more time where fires are occurring).

Hoffman said vegetation in forests dried out much earlier this year due to a lack of rainfall and "record setting temperatures" that added to the increase in wildfires.

Firefighters have become "really good" at putting out wildfires to the point where forests have an overload of dead and dry fuel in the forests, she said.

"We have a problem where we have a huge fuel load in our forests, and a lot of these fires are becoming insuppressible, so they're very difficult to control," she said.

"They're very unpredictable."

Wildfires in the province are "complicated" by insect outbreaks, diseases, high intensity winds among other things, Hoffman said.

"That would have, you know, been mitigated by previous wildfire but they're more," she said. "Now they're contributing to extreme wildfire events."

This in turn has led to fewer but more higher intensity fires, she added.

One of the ways to mitigate wildfires, Hoffman said is to have prescribed burns as were done by Indigenous people.

Bob Gray, from Chilliwack, B.C., who consults for local, provincial, state and tribal governments across Canada and the United States, had said the province should burn tens of thousands of hectares every year to reduce fallen branches and leaves in forests. The Forests Ministry said it burned an average of 50 square kilometres annually from 2010 to 2019.

Hoffman said prescribed burning is considered a "risky tool" by many, but studies have shown that when done well the probability of "fire escape is very low."

"We do need suppression. We need it in the summer months when we are dealing with really hot and dry conditions and when we have fires that may impact communities," she said.

"But then we also need mitigation in the spring, fall and winter."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

Rain helps curb wildfires but isn't enough to make long-term impact or clear smoke .
VICTORIA — Recent showers were a welcome relief to firefighters, but the rain wasn't enough to make long-lasting impacts on wildfires that continue to burn in British Columbia, a Wildfires BC operations director said Tuesday. However, the weekend rains did help to keep most of the approximately 250 fires burning in the province in check, said Rob Schweitzer. "The rain received over the weekend has curbed the fire behaviour but only for a short period of time, allowing our crews to make progress," Schweitzer said at a news conference.

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This is interesting!