Wildfires projected to worsen with climate change

Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 09:40 in Earth & Climate

Research by environmental scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) brings bad news to the western United States, where firefighters are currently battling dozens of fires in at least 11 states. The Harvard team’s study suggests that by 2050, wildfire seasons will be about three weeks longer, up to twice as smoky, and will burn a wider area in the western states. The findings are based on a set of internationally recognized climate scenarios, decades of historical meteorological data, and records of past fire activity. The results will be published in the October 2013 issue of Atmospheric Environment and are available in advance online. Awareness is building that gradual climate change may contribute in the coming years to increases in significant, disruptive events such as severe storms and floods. Loretta J. Mickley, a senior research fellow in atmospheric chemistry at SEAS and co-author of the new study, is thinking...

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