Wildfire season spreading

2015-07-14 17:59

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - The wildfire season globally has lengthened by almost 20% in 35 years as the average temperature has risen, a climate change study said on Tuesday.

"Fire weather seasons have lengthened across 29.6 million square kilometres of the Earth's vegetated surface," said a paper in the journal Nature Communications.

This resulted in a 18.7% increase in season length overall.

"We have shown that combined surface weather changes over the last three-and-a-half decades have promoted global wildfire weather season lengthening," said a team of scientists in the United States and Australia - two countries particularly affected by wildfires.

The researchers used climate data and three indices of fire danger, to produce an overview of fire season length from 1979 to 2013.

Weather is the largest driver of fire risk - temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind speed all influence the frequency and intensity of wildfires. These factors, in turn, are all affected by a changing climate.

Wildfires play a crucial role in clearing forests, improving grazing and boosting new plant growth, but also pose a threat to human life and property, and nature.

About 350 million hectares are burnt every year, said the report. Fighting wildfires cost the United States about $1.7bn per year over the past decade, and Canada about $1bn.

Increased wildfire potential

Total wildfire costs in Australia in 2005 were estimated at nearly $9.4bn, or 1.3% of gross domestic product, said the report.

Over the study period, the global land area with "unusually" hot years increased by 6.3% per decade, said the team.

"Fire weather season length and long fire weather season affected area significantly increased across all vegetated continents except Australia," they reported.

And they warned: "If these trends continue, increased wildfire potential may have pronounced global socio-economic, ecological and climate system impacts."

In a separate study in the same journal, scientists said nearly two-thirds of the ocean has experienced an increasing impact from human activities in the five years from 2008 to 2013.

The change, they said, was driven mainly by climate change pressures like anomalies in sea surface temperature, ocean acidification and ultraviolet radiation - more even than fishing or pollution.

Read more on:    nature communications  |  australia  |  climate change

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.