Climate Change could lead to increased wildfire activity –

I wrote a paper for my masters degree on this exact topic…it did not involve any modelling and the hypothesis was exploring if global warming could increase forest fires and then forest fires would via  positive feedback loop increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and then more forest fires.  This was after a particularly bad year for forest fires in Northern Manitoba in 1989.  I wonder if I can dig that up somewhere.

More forest fires can impact investments in forest companies who have sawmills and pulp and paper plants in the area.  Sawmills generally do rely on some sort of local supply of wood.  Pulp and paper generally receives pulp from greater distances than sawmills receive their trees.  Other impacts include impacts on tourism, hunting and possibly the cottaging sector – dear to our hearts in Canada.  That is actually potential firekeg.  The cottage that we go to regularly in Ontario has a huge amount of deadwood in the underbrush and as these are of course managed areas with cottages, forest fires are not encouraged.  What it does mean is that when there is one, they tend to have more fuel and it is drier which means the fire is more intense, hotter and harder to manage.  With climate change potentially drying out the forest more due to higher temperatures, forest fires in cottage areas could also be increasing which could further increase costs to the insurance sector.  I will have some blogs on the insurance sector in the next week or so.  One of the areas which may be facing increased costs associated with climate change could be the insurance sector.  There is of course substantive debate whether these increased costs can be attributed at all to climate change or if it is because of increased land and property values because of development or because of increased densification or because we are slowly expanding and covering more and more of the earth’s surface and as a result a severe weather inevitably has to hit some human development.

Climate change could lead to increased wildfire activity in North America over the next 30 years: Berkeley study

TEXT SIZE bigger text smaller text

2012-07-04


Climate change is expected to disrupt future fire patterns, with some regions, such as the western United States, seeing more frequent blazes within the next 30 years, notes a study in the peer-reviewed journal Ecosphere.

Conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the June 12 study found increasing fire activity across large parts of the planet. “But the speed and extent to which some of these changes may happen is surprising,” Max Moritz, a fire specialist in U.C. Cooperative Extension and the study’s lead author, suggests in a statement.

The study received support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Science Foundation and The Nature Conservancy. It used 16 different climate change models to generate what researchers contend is one of the most comprehensive projections to date of how climate change might affect global fire patterns.

“Most of the previous wildfire projection studies focused on specific regions of the world or relied upon only a handful of climate models,” says study co-author Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University.

The greatest disagreements among models occur for the next few decades. But the Berkeley study shows that for some areas, such as the western United States, there is a high level of agreement in climate models both near- and long-term.

“When many different models paint the same picture, that gives us confidence that the results of our study reflect a robust fire frequency projection for that region,” Hayhoe says.

Researchers project that, by century’s end, almost all of North America and most of Europe will see increased frequency of wildfires. Fire activity could decrease around equatorial regions over the same timeframe.

Higher wildfire frequency will be fuelled in large part by increasing temperature trends. More rainfall, though, could dampen fire activity in the equatorial regions, particularly among tropical rainforests.