In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists have assessed the influence of human activities on extreme fire weather risk, and found that greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution have distinct regional impacts on wildfire outbreaks.
The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, analysed the climate under various combinations of human influences since 1920, isolating individual effects and their impacts on extreme fire weather risk.
While previous studies found that human activities and their products like greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution raise the risk of extreme fire weather, the scientists, including those from the University of California (UC) Santa Barbara in the US, said the specific influence of these factors has been unclear.
“To get a wildfire to ignite and spread, you need suitable weather conditions — you need warm, dry and windy conditions,” explained Danielle Touma, a co-author of the study from UC Santa Barbara.
“And when these conditions are at their most extreme, they can cause really large, severe fires,” Touma said.
According to the researchers, heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions are the dominant contributors to temperature increases around the globe.