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Frequency Of Extreme Fire Risk In The U.S. Now 20X Greater

Levels of widespread extreme fire risk which used to occur once every 100 years will now occur every five, predicts Deep Sky.

Levels of widespread extreme fire risk — which used to occur once every 100 years — will now occur every five, predicts Deep Sky.

In what climate scientists refer to as a “vicious cycle,” climate change is causing worse fire weather conditions. This can result in larger, more destructive wildfires, which cause huge carbon emissions, which themselves contribute to more climate change.

Extreme Fire Risk
(Photo: Adobe Stock / yelantsevv)

With this in mind, a new report from Canada-based Deep Sky Research and its Wildfire Risk Model reveals the following four predictions about how wildfire risk is changing due to climate change for the U.S. and North America:

  • Maximum Fire Risk Has Grown Approximately 15X Across North America: The model shows that Extreme Fire Weather conditions previously seen once every 100 years will now happen on average every seven years.
  • Frequency Of Extreme Fire Risk Has Grown 20X: The frequency of Extreme Fire Weather – exceeding the 95th percentile in that area – has grown even more sharply than severity. Levels of widespread extreme fire risk which used to occur once every 100 years will now occur every five.
  • Some Regions Face Even Faster Growing Risks: Central Colorado and Northern New Mexico are seeing much more extreme fire weather today than in previous years, and Central California is facing staggering increases in extreme fire weather, for example.
  • The Increase Is Accelerating: One startling finding from the Wildfire Risk Model is that the increases in Extreme Fire Weather are not linear. These risks are not only growing but have begun accelerating.

One way to understand the increase in wildfire destruction is to look at the underlying conditions that lead to wildfires. Fire Weather Index (FWI) is a measure developed by the Canadian Forestry Service but used globally to assess fire risk. It combines temperature, humidity, wind speed, and precipitation to give a holistic view of landscape flammability.

Climate change, which directly impacts each of these inputs, is causing more frequent and more destructive wildfires. Deep Sky Research analyzed trends in fire weather across North America and found sharp increases in the probability of extreme conditions.

“Deep Sky Research uses a novel approach for predicting the impact of climate change,” said Max Dugan-Knight, Deep Sky Climate Data Scientist. “A risk assessment approach, just like the insurance industry uses, can help us predict disasters ahead of time. In the case of wildfires, an increase in frequency and severity is being driven by changes in extreme fire weather.”

Click the image above to visit an interactive map that shows how specific regions are facing large swings in wildfire risk. (Source: Deep Sky Research)

Deep Sky Research developed an interactive map to show how fire weather is changing in each county of the continental U.S. It shows how Extreme Fire Weather is becoming more frequent and more severe. The darker red the county, the greater the increase in fire weather. The few blue counties are actually seeing decreases in risk.

To read the full report, visit Where Will the Next Extreme Wildfire Be?

Click here for more news and insights about natural disasters.

Climate Change, Deep Sky Research, Emergency Preparedness, Extreme Fire Weather, Fire Risk, Wildfire, Wildfire Risk Model

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