With over 600 active wildfires and over 1 million acres of land burned away, California may need to accept the new norm. As temperatures continue to increase, the Golden State becomes more susceptible to forest fires every single year.
As droughts and high temperatures leave dead forests in their wake, these dead trees become the perfect fuel for the fire. The moment the tiniest spark happens, a giant blaze will light up the night sky. And this cycle has continued for some time now.
California has experienced a five-fold increase in annual burned land, and as the temperatures continue to rise, this number may get worse.
Why Wildfires Are So Common
Since the 1970s, the average temperature in California has increased by 2.5°F. As the temperatures increase, the atmosphere begins to dry out, which means less rain. As a result, the land itself becomes drier, making it perfect to start a fire.
However, it’s not just a more intense summer that is causing problems. It’s all seasons.
During the winter snowpack is down, which produces less water when it melts. Instead of the snow melting slowly during the spring, it melts very much after. This means that summers will be that much drier.
In fact, wildfires are actually making snow melt faster, which is causing more fires.
It’s a vicious cycle.
The Next Few Years Could Get Even Worse
California has a long history of forest fires, but they have gotten worse over time. In fact, 6 out of 10 worst forest fires have taken place between 2017 and 2018.
The coming years could be far worse, and 2020 is already on track to being one of the worst years yet. With temperatures continuing to climb, there is no question that wildfires are the new norm in California.
Even if we curb emissions, the damage has already been done.