Woods Hole Scientist: Climate Change Leads to More Northern Fires

WOODS HOLE – A new study show that climate change is sparking more wildfires in northern regions.

The study, published last month in the journal “Nature Climate Change” found that increased lightning associated with climate change is resulting in increased fire ignitions. Researchers are concerned that these storms could continue to push farther to the north with climate warming, possibly resulting in changes to northern landscapes.

Brendan Rogers, a scientist and the Woods Hole Research Center and co-author of the study, said the trends are likely to continue.

“We expect an increasing number of thunderstorms, and hence fire, across the high latitudes in the coming decades as a result of climate change,” Rogers said.

The study was funded by NASA to examine the connection between climate change and recent massive fire years in Canada and Alaska.

Researchers used satellite images provided by NASA to study the cause of the fires. There was a record number of outbreaks in Canada’s Northwest Territories in 2014 and Alaska in 2015. According to the study, there has been anywhere between a two and five percent increase each year in lightning-sparked fires up north since 1975.

Researchers found that the fires continue to move north, near the transition from forests to tundra in the Arctic.

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