Sep 12 , 2019
Wildfire news is as common as political news in the United States these days. Most times, firefighters in the US are always containing blazes in different states. Some of these states are; Colorado, Florida, Oklahoma, California etc.
In recent times, massive wildfires in the United States has burnt more than they did in the past. In fact, an average fire season is now 78 days longer than what it used to be.
It's common knowledge that forest management and human activities are contributory factors to wildfires. But climate change has worsened the trend over time. And it elongates the length of the wildfire season.
According to research, climate change is the reason for hot, dry conditions which boosts the intensity of wildfires in some areas. These warm and dry conditions are usually caused by earlier snowmelt. And snowmelt doesn’t happen early except there’s spring and summer warming.
Again, climate change has led to the frequency and intensity of fires in the Western US. It also lengthens the fire season in some areas.
Wildfires could worsen the impact of climate change on the atmosphere. These fires release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases contributing to global warming in the atmosphere. In a nutshell, wildfire is a vicious circle that includes climate change and human activities.
How Climate Change Is Contributing To The Spread Of Wildfires In The United States
It may interest you to know that climate disasters make wildfire spread faster in the US. Some of these disasters are hurricanes, drought, and rising temperatures. Climate change usually primes the ecosystems in Alaska, Western US, and Southeastern US to burn.
Even though drought occurs naturally, climate change exposes us to the risk of hotter droughts. Rising temperatures, on the other hand, dry out water from the soil and trees quickly. Let me explain these two terms to you better.
Droughts happen when less water enters the ecosystem. And rising temperatures make water leaves more quickly. Whenever there’s rising temperature, plants will lose more water. This will worsen the already dry and dangerous conditions caused by drought.
With less water in plants and trees, forest in Western US, Alaska, and Southeastern US will continue to dry and ready to burn. With little human activity, it will become a wild and uncontrollable fire.
How Hurricanes Can Increase The Frequency and Severity of Wildfires
Hurricane is another climate disaster that could compound the spread and risk of wildfires. But it can only spread fire when it makes landfall. Although landfalling hurricanes are a rare disaster, they bring down a large number of timbers. And when these timbers dried off, they could become fuel for wildfires to spread.
For instance, in 1989, 4.39 million acres of forested land was damaged in South Carolina by Hurricane Hugo. This was a severe issue of concern then because it presented a large fuel load for any wildfire to spread faster.
In the last few months, Hurricane Michael brought down trees which worsened a small debris fire in Florida. The downed trees made the task difficult for firefighters as they work tirelessly to access and contain the fire.
How To Reduce The Likelihood and Risk Of Wildfires
From time immemorial, wildfires have always posed severe threats to lives and properties. Between 2000 till date, 11 different forest fires in the United States have caused nothing less than one billion dollars worth of damages. These damages are mainly due to loss of homes, infrastructure as well as firefighting cost.
But on your own, you can carry out some preventive to reduce the risk and likelihood of wildfires.
#1. Don’t build your home around fire-prone forests. You can do this by applying smart zoning rules.
#2. Try to space your home from near buildings, trees and brush. And always ensure you clear and clean spaces between your home and other structures.
#3. Ensure that you incorporate fire-resistant features and designs in your home
#4. Try as much as possible to be safety conscious and be aware of your environment
#5. If you are living close to fire-prone forests, mobilize people in your neighbourhood to remove dead trees and other things that could make wildfire to spread faster.
#6. Always plan before wildfire season comes, this will minimize the extent of the wildfire’s damage.