Drought-Fueled Wildfires Burn 7 Million Acres in U.S.

Bobby Magill:  “Sap a forest of rain — say, for three or four years — toss in seemingly endless sunshine and high temperatures, and you’ve got just the right recipe for some catastrophic wildfires.

“Such is the story playing out in the West, where, thanks in part to climate change, drought-fueled infernos are incinerating forests at a record pace from Alaska to California, claiming the lives of 13 firefighters, destroying more than 900 structures and requiring firefighting agencies to call in help from the U.S. Army and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Photo:  The Aggie Creek fire burns along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in June.  Credit: USDA/flickr

“Here’s the breakdown: As of Aug. 20, more than 41,300 wildfires have scorched more than 7.2 million acres in 2015, mostly in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. That’s nearly three times the 2.6 million acres that burned nationwide in 2014 and more land area than has burned in any other year over the last decade.”  Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.climatecentral.org

GR:  The global-warming caused shift from forest to arid woodland and shrubland could be quite sudden if continuing drought prevents forest recovery after fire.  Such shifts can be permanent if future fires occur before trees can grow to reproductive age.  This will happen if drought and temperature continue to favor fires.  It can also happen if grasses and herbs increase in abundance and provide fine fuel that enhances fire spread.

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