The Sierra Nevada is home to the giant sequoias
, the largest trees in the world
. The past two years of wildfires in California have taken a massive toll on the trees
, which can live for thousands of years
. The National Park Service geskat 10% aan 14% of the world’s giant sequoias
— 7,500 aan 10,600 bome — were destroyed the Castle Fire in
Die 2021 fire season was similarly devastating
: die Caldor
en Dixie fires alone torched nearly
1.2 million acres of the Sierra Nevada
, according to Cal Fire
. Those fires destroyed meer as 2,300 strukture
Gutierrez said lightning-sparked wildfires have been historically widespread across the Sierra Nevada, but fire management by Indigenous peoples made it less severe. That balance changed with modern fire suppression policies, land use changes, population growth and warming temperatures.
“The consequences of suppressing fires for so long was that we had a very big overgrowth of fuel, of vegetation in that region,” Gutierrez said.
The research follows previous studies that have often relied on monthly or annual burned area data when considering the impacts of the climate crisis on wildfire trends in the West, Gutierrez said.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, who was not involved with the study, said the latest research is a vital addition to a growing body of science that links wildfires to climate change.
“The interesting piece here is that the effect of daily summer temperatures on fire appears to be non-linear, meaning that each additional degree of warming has a greater influence than the last,” Swain told CNN. “This is in line with other work suggesting that wildfire size and severity is increasing in a non-linear fashion in response to the increasing ‘vapor pressure deficit’ — a measure of atmospheric ‘thirstiness’ that is directly related to both humidity and temperature.”
Swain says that as a result of this non-linearity, “the climate-fire connection will continue to amplify and accelerate with each additional degree of local warming, which will challenge societal efforts to keep pace with the changing character of wildfire in the 21st century.”
The findings reflect what global scientists concluded in August
: That with every fraction of a degree of warming
, the effects of the climate crisis around the world from floods to drought are set to worsen
And after a summer of landscape-altering wildfires
, unrelenting drought
en deadly heat waves in the Western US
, Gutierrez said the region should adapt and prepare for more climate change-fueled disasters in the near term
“The potential for fires to grow will increase exponentially into the future,” sy het gese. “With climate change, it’s an amplifying cycle. It’s just a matter of considering how we’re going into the future by how we manage the land.”