Science Brief – Climate Change Increases the Risk of Wildfires

ScienceBrief recently published a new analysis of the impacts of climate change on wildfires. The CRESCENDO project is one of the funders for ScienceBrief.

Over 115 papers were collated under the Brief “climate change increases the risk of wildfires”, collectively showing strong consensus. This updated ScienceBrief Review focuses on articles relevant to ongoing fires in the western United States; new findings relevant to the wildfires that raged in southeastern Australia in 2019-2020; and new findings published since January 2020.  

The key messages from the analysis are:

  • Natural variability is superimposed on the increasingly warm and dry background conditions resulting from climate change, leading to more extreme fires and more extreme fire seasons.
  • Land management can enhance or compound climate-driven changes in wildfire risk, either through fuel reductions or fuel accumulation as unintended by-product of fire suppression. Fire suppression efforts are made more difficult by climate change.
  • There is an unequivocal and pervasive role of climate change in increasing the intensity and length in which fire weather occurs; land management is likely to have contributed too, but does not alone account for recent increases in wildfire extent and severity in the western US and in southeast Australia.

A pdf version of the full article.