Digital Art on Metal 30" W X 30" H
According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences*, during the period 1984-2015 human-caused climate change contributed to over half of the increases in “fuel aridity” (the extent to which dryness is converted to tinder which fuels fire). This resulted in a near doubling of area impacted by forest fires in the western United States. According to NOAA, 2018 was the first year that wildfires exceeded the average cost of hurricanes in the U.S..
Global warming causes trees, plants and soil to become drier because warmer air draws more moisture, which increases fuel aridity. Drought, decreased rainfall and earlier melting of snow pack are also contributing factors. “Simply put, climate change results in longer fire seasons and larger and more intense fires.”**
This graph from the report reflects the correlation between “fuel aridity” and forest fire area burned.
*Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, “Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests”, John T. Abatzoglou and A. Park Williams, PNAS October 18, 2016. 113 (42) 11770-11775; published ahead of print October 10, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1607171113
**Philip B Duffy, executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, as quoted in The New York Times, August 18, 2018.