It’s the same every day in summer. I fire up the laptop. I check the surface map. I scan the Doppler.
Then I pull up NOAA’s Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Product. And most days over the past two summers it looks something like this. A massive smoke plume covering most of the U.S. from dozens of western wildfires.
We know about being snowed in here in Minnesota. But imagine being forced to keep your kids inside to play for much of the summer because the smoke-filled air in your backyard is dangerous to breathe. This Guardian piece by Emma Marris hits home for many across the west.
— Emma Marris (@Emma_Marris) August 6, 2018
Wildfire smoke is not just a nuisance. The components of wildfire smoke pose serious health impacts.
— Climate Central (@ClimateCentral) August 6, 2018
Climate change connection
Climate scientists like Michael Mann see clear connections between a hotter drier climate and increased wildfires.
— Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) August 6, 2018
Science continues to find increased links between climate change and wildfire activity.
Climate change is producing conditions ripe for wildfires, tipping the scales in favor of the dramatic increases in large wildfires we have seen across the West since the 1970s https://t.co/BHJdPlN4ds pic.twitter.com/OZcuQ87z33
— Climate Central (@ClimateCentral) August 5, 2018
If you have traveled to the west or Alaska, you have probably seen the stark landscape changes brought on by increased wildfire activity in the past few decades.
Alaska, the great northern frontier of America, is being reshaped by climate change https://t.co/TqWzqCyVN1
— Climate Central (@ClimateCentral) August 4, 2018
Increased development in fire-prone areas in the west certainly put more people and homes in harm’s way. Aggressive forest management practices have created high fuel levels in some areas. But you can’t replicate the levels of fire activity and damages without one critical factor. A hotter and drier climate that favors extreme fire behavior.