Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California

Climate warming makes extreme daily wildfires more likely in California.

The study focuses on wildfires in California, which have become more extreme in recent years. While climate change plays a role, it’s hard to measure how much. Using machine learning, the researchers found that temperature affects wildfire risk mainly by drying out the fuel (vegetation). They used this information to estimate the impact of climate change on extreme daily wildfire growth. They discovered that the effect varies from fire to fire and day to day, depending on how much warming pushes conditions to certain dryness levels. So far, climate change has increased the risk of extreme wildfires by about 25%, on average. But for some fires, there’s been little change, while for others, it’s been much higher. Under different future climate scenarios, the risk could increase by 59% to 172%.

Brown, P.T., Hanley, H., Mahesh, A. et al. Climate warming increases extreme daily wildfire growth risk in California. Nature (2023).

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