As brutal fires torch tinder-dry dense forests and neighboring homes in the US West, researchers are examining the relationships between drought, wildfire, and a warming climate, predicting mass forest die-offs and prolonged megadrought for the Southwest, reports Caroline Fraser at Yale Environment 360. These forces are accelerating, they say, and already transforming the landscape. Unchecked, they may permanently destroy forests in the southwestern US and elsewhere around the world. Besides dry winters, the increasingly warmer, drier summers and falls are literally sucking trees lethally dry, and increasing the risk of wildfires and lethal bark beetle epidemics. Across the West, “megafires” have become the norm. With climbing temperatures, the total area burned has tripled since the 1970s, and the average annual number of fires over 10,000 acres is seven times what it was then. Wildfires costs more than $3 billion yearly, not to mention lives lost. So understanding what, if anything, can be done to reduce intense forest fires has assumed an urgent priority. Currently suffering the worst US drought, New Mexico is a “natural megadrought experiment” for understanding the West’s future under rapid, human-caused warming.
Join the swelling numbers of voters TELLING Congress they’ll vote for Clean Energy candidates here: http://signon.org/sign/we-are-the-clean-99?source=c.em.cp&r_by=487176 . This is an ongoing campaign (the next Congressional election is in 2 years!) so please, spread the word. It’s our way of telling Congress that a strong clean energy voting bloc is out there. This is how YOU can make a difference.
For more on Climate Change, check out my weekly column at the HuffingtonPost, Climate Change This Week : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/index.php?author=mary-ellen-harte
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