Global Warming Limits Wildfire Management

Article excerpt

Changes in climate will limit humans' ability to manage wildland fire and apply prescribed fire across the landscape, claims a report from the Association for Fire Ecology, San Diego, Calif. "Under future drought and high-heat scenarios, fires may become larger more quickly and be more difficult to manage. Fire suppression costs may continue to increase, with decreasing effectiveness under extreme fire weather and fuel conditions. Extreme fire events are likely to occur more frequently," the report maintains.

"We're going to see more fire, not less, and these increases in wildfire occurrence and severity are going to be part of our new reality," insists Robin Wills, Association president. "We, as a society, must be prepared to cope with these changes."

"Abrupt climate change can lead to rapid and continuous changes that disrupt natural processes and plant communities," the report warns. "Managers are not safe in assuming that tomorrow's climate will mimic that of the last several decades.

"Increased temperatures are projected to lead to broad-scale alteration of storm tracks, thereby changing precipitation patterns. Historical data shows that such changes in past millennia were often accompanied by disruption of fire regimes with major migration and reorganization of vegetation at regional and continental scales. …