The monster forest fires rampaging across the Western states may soon be the norm, thanks to climate change. New research indicates that as rainfall diminishes and vegetation dries out on a warmer planet, the West is headed into a more fire-prone future,” wildfire specialist Max Moritz tells the Los Angeles Times. After studying satellite imaging of fires and data from 16 climate models, Moritz and other researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that rising temperatures are likely to change fire
patterns not just in the western U.S. but across 80 percent of the planet by the end of the century.
Polar and temperate regions—including tundras, hardwood forests, and grasslands-will become drier and more vulnerable to fire, while some desert regions could experience extra rainfall, promoting bigger plants that will give flames more fuel. These abrupt changes in fire patterns will affect people who live in or near the drier regions, and “add stress to native plants and animals that are already struggling to adapt to habitat loss,” Moritz says. “In the lonq run, we found what [we] most fear, increasing fire activity across large areas of the planet.”