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Climate change is making California's fires bigger
“We've been lengthening fire season by shortening the precipitation season, and we're warming throughout,” says Swain. “That's essentially what’s enabled these recent fires to be so destructive, at times of the year when you wouldn't really expect them.”

The total number of wildfires in California hasn’t increased; in fact the numbers were a lot higher in the 1980s and 1990s than in the past decade. The total acreage burned fluctuates considerably from year to year, depending on many factors, including luck: Rain dampens things down early, or fires start in places where they are easier to contain.

Over the past century, California has warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit. That extra-warmed air sucks water out of plants and soils, leaving the trees, shrubs, and rolling grasslands of the state dry and primed to burn.

That vegetation-drying effect compounds with every degree of warming, explains Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, meaning that plants lose their water more efficiently today than they did before climate change ratcheted up California's temperatures.
California  wildfires  climate_science_primer 
5 days ago by huntercutting
"I wish it weren't a Republican versus Democrat thing": Wildfire photographer Stuart Palley on climate change and California's devastating blazes: Digital Photography Review
in a warming climate we have more days per year that support large fire growth. We have hotter days in the summer that are drying up the vegetation more quickly, which makes them more susceptible to burning. That’s measured using something called the Burn Index. They measured the area around the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Burn Index was 241. It was one of the highest burn indexes ever recorded.
wildfires  climate_science_primer 
7 weeks ago by huntercutting

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