How climate change is increasing forest fires around the world

Science has suggested that over the past few decades, the number of wildfires has indeed increased across many countries.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), forests are endangered by increasing wildfires, as the trend has been that wildfires are burning more areas around the world.

“In recent years, there have been big fires in various places around the world where we typically don’t see large-scale wildfires,” Jason Funk, a senior climate scientist with  the UCS, said in an interview.

Projections by the UCS suggest that wildfires could get four, five and even six times as bad as they currently are within this century.

These “ignition events” don’t have a major effect on the scale of the fire, says Funk. But what does affect scale are prevailing climate conditions. And these have become warmer and drier, due to climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions, via the greenhouse effect, are causing the global temperature to increase and the climate to change. This enhances the likelihood of wildfires.

“The areas where wildfires are taking place are always areas that have become drier and hotter, and where spring has come earlier,” Funk said.

Drier conditions and higher temperatures increase not only the likelihood of a wildfire to occur, but also the duration and the severity of the wildfire.

That means when wildfires break out, they expand faster and burn more area as they move in unpredictable ways.

“They really take off and get out of control more frequently than in the past,” said Funk.