Study on GHG Emissions and Wild Fires

Recently, in a study scientists have determined the effect of human activities on extreme fire weather risk. It is a first-of-its-kind study.

Key Points

  • In the study, scientists have found that air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) have definite regional impacts on wildfire outbreaks.
  • The study analyzed the climate under different combinations of human influences/activities since the year 1920, isolating individual effects and their impacts on extreme fire weather risk.
  • While previous studies found that human activities increase the risk of extreme fire weather, a team of researchers which also included scientists from the University of California, said the specific influence of factors like air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions is unclear.
  • As per the scientists, suitable weather conditions are needed to ignite and spread wildfire and when suitable conditions like warm, windy, and dry conditions exist, the fires can be large and severe.
  • As per the scientists, heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions are the major contributors to the increase in temperature across the globe.
  • By the year 2005, greenhouse gas emissions have increased the risk of extreme fire weather by 20% from preindustrial levels in the Amazon, the Mediterranean, western and eastern North America, and Southeast Asia.
  • The study has also estimated that by 2080, greenhouse gas emissions will increase the extreme wildfire risk by at least 50% in Southeast Asia and Australia, equatorial Africa, western North America while doubling it in southern Africa, the Mediterranean, the Amazon, and eastern North America.
  • As per researchers, land-use changes and biomass burning have more regional impacts that increase greenhouse gas-driven warming.
  • According to the study, biomass burning caused an increase of 30% in extreme fire weather risk over western North America and the Amazon during the 20th century.

The researchers now hope that the present understanding of fire risk can help in planning and mitigation purposes. The findings of the study were published in the Nature Communications journal.