A new study shows that the combination of drought conditions and heat waves makes wildfires more likely to occur, and they are becoming more common in the western United States. The result can be catastrophic.
As we all know, droughts and heat waves have occurred more frequently in recent decades. The authors write that although these situations may cause damage alone, “their consent may be more destructive.”
Mojtaba Sadegh, assistant professor of civil engineering at Boise State University and the author of the latest study, said that in the past few decades, due to climate change, the double whammy of the rare weather in the past has been more severe. frequently. He said: “These events, dry heat events are intensifying.”
This new paper extends the historical weather records of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to 122 years ago, and studies the continuous occurrence of high temperature and drought events throughout the United States.
Researchers have found that these two phenomena complement each other in an ever-increasing process. Dr. Sudeg said that they can also spread down the wind, spreading drought and heat to a wider area, just like the heavy rain before the storm, so “self-reinforcement will happen in a new area.”
Although the researchers hope that the records they examine will show an increase in merger events, “we don’t want to see this increase.”
Due to the warming caused by climate change, even if the rainfall is not very low, droughts may occur, such as the drought that occurred in California this year. Without the warming brought about by climate change, drought and extreme high temperature levels are expected to hit the Northwestern region five to six times every 75 years between 1993 and 2017.
People usually observe climate phenomena based on what they have known throughout their lives. “These norms, as far as climate is concerned, may not have any meaning from now on, or have no meaning for a while. We only realize this now,” he Say.
The new study also examines the combined conditions of drought and high temperature caused by the drought in the 1930s that caused the dust storm. Scientists say that this national tragedy was largely due to lack of rainfall, which caused the air to become hotter, and poor land management practices that led to sandstorms. However, the recent dry heat disasters are more caused by excessive heat than lack of rainfall.
Therefore, according to the researchers, the trigger mechanism of hot and drought events is shifting from lack of rainfall to overheating. The author concludes: “If the length and severity of meteorological droughts observed in the 1930s occurred in the hot years, due to global warming, it has become more and more common in recent decades, then the simultaneous occurrence of droughts may occur. Have a devastating effect.”
They wrote that more importantly, no major area of the continental United States can withstand severe drought. They warned that increased heat makes a major drought more likely.
Their perhaps fascinating research warns that the heat generated by climate change will increase the demand for water and cause water shortages. Scientists wrote that this may put pressure on the national infrastructure and society, “may push it to an unprecedented state.”
Daniel Swain of the University of California, Los Angeles, a climate scientist who was not involved in the study, said the new study expands previous work on the West. He believes that the most important finding of the new paper is that heat is becoming more and more important as a driving factor for drought. He said that the increase in global temperature “makes it easier to reach dryness levels rarely seen in history.”
In a series of comments recently posted on Twitter, Dr. Swain pointed out that California, and even the entire Pacific Northwest, is likely to have another severe heat wave in early October, which may “bring extreme wildfire burning conditions again.”
He said the new study is a good description of how drought and wildfire conditions spread and occur simultaneously across a large area, making fire management more difficult. He said: “We will definitely see this in 2020 wildfires.”
Dr. Sadig pointed out that the country has done nothing to address the changing situation and continues to build new houses in areas prone to wildfires, but “new records are set every year,” he said. He said that California alone burned 3.6 million acres of land this year. Five of the six largest wildfires in the state’s history occurred in 2020. The answer is to face the issue of climate change.
He said: “The situation will only get worse until we take action on it and reduce emissions.”