Graphic Science: Up in Flames; June 2011; Scientific American Magazine; by Mark Fischetti; 1 Page(s)
“If climate change drives temperature up a degree or two,” goes the common dismissal, “how bad could that be?”
Here’s an example: Higher temperatures draw moisture out of live and dead trees and brush, making them more flammable. The heat also can alter precipitation, as well as shift spring thaw earlier, lengthening the fire season. A one degree Celsius climb in average global temperature could cause the median area burned annually by wildfires in parts of the American West to increase up to sixfold. “A one-degree rise could occur well before 2050,” notes Jeremy Littell, a climate and fire researcher at the University of Washington, who created the projections with the U.S. Forest Service and other institutions.