A home burns during the Bear fire, part of the North Lightning Complex fires in Butte County, California on September 9, 2020. Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images
Wildfires burned more acres this year in the U.S. than ever before in modern records, E&E reports based on data published by the National Interagency Fire Center.
Extreme heat, fueled by climate change caused by extracting and burning fossil fuels, dries vegetation and turns vast swaths of forest into a tinderbox.
“In 2020 we saw some of the hottest months on record, and large portions of the western U.S. were in severe drought,” University of Colorado fire scientist Jennifer Balch told E&E.
California, also hit by two exceptionally severe heat waves this year, more than doubled its previous record of acreage burned and its ecosystems will likely be changed for centuries.
“We can no longer ignore the link between warming and wildfires. We will see more fire seasons like 2020 in the future,” Balch told E&E.
For a deeper dive:
- California Wildfires Burn 10,000 Acres in a Single Day - EcoWatch
- California Wildfires Break Records by Burning More Than 4 Million ...
- 7 Devastating Photos of Wildfires in California, Oregon and ...
- Where Do We Go From Here? - EcoWatch
- Wildfire Smoke Is More Toxic Than Other Forms of Air Pollution
- Dangerous Fire Season Looms as Drought-Stricken Western U.S Faces Water Crisis