When it comes to large, high-intensity forest fires, we can expect to see a lot more in the coming years, according to South Dakota State University professor Mark Cochrane, a senior scientist at the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence.
Using satellite data from 2002 to 2013, Cochrane and researchers from the University of Tasmania and the University of Idaho examined nearly 23,000 fires worldwide, identifying 478 large, high-intensity fires which they defined as extreme wildfire events. Their work is described in the Feb. 2017 issue of Nature Ecology and Evolution.
"Almost all happened under bad conditions -- high temperatures, dry conditions and strong winds, which tell us that weather and climate are very important," Cochrane said. Using monthly world weather data from 2000 to 2014, the researchers modeled the likely changes in fire behavior from 2041 to 2070, predicting a 20 to 50 percent increase in the number of days when conditions are conducive to fires.
"Those conditions are based on business-as-usual carbon emissions," Cochrane continued. "This will continue to worsen after 2070 unless we get very serious about cutting global carbon emissions."
Read more at Large, High-Intensity Forest Fires Will Increase