Recent California fires consistent with climate change models, says study

November 14th, 2007 - 2:49 am ICT by admin  
Prof. Ronald Neilson and his team developed a fire forecast model and combined it with the one developed by the Forest Service department.

Findings revealed that when combined, the model accurately predicted both the Southern California fires that were happening, and the drought that had recently hit parts of the Southeast, including Georgia and Florida.

Neilson, a professor at Oregon State University and bioclimatologist with the USDA Forest Service said, the latest models suggested that parts of the US might be experiencing longer-term precipitation patterns - less year-to-year variability, but rather several wet years in a row followed by several that are drier than normal.

“This is exactly what we’ve been projecting to happen, both in short-term fire forecasts for this year and the longer term patterns that can be linked to global climate change,” said Prof. Neilson.

“You can’t look at one event such as this and say with certainty that it was caused by a changing climate. But things just like this are consistent with what the latest modelling shows, and may be another piece of evidence that climate change is a reality, one with serious effects,” he said.

Prof. Neilson said, as the Earth warmed, more water was being evaporated from the oceans.

All that water came somewhere as precipitation, which at times led to heavier vegetation loads popping up, thereby creating a tremendous fuel load, he said.

“But the warmth and other climatic forces are also going to create periodic droughts. If you get an ignition source during these periods, the fires can just become explosive,” he said.

He added that events such as El Ni

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