Wildfires and climate change – The new reality
Description: Wildfires are a frequent occurrence in many regions of the world. These fires are the result of interactions between climate/weather, fuels (vegetation – grass, leaves, needles, shrubs etc.), and people. Our climate and associated day-to-day weather are changing rapidly due to human activities that may have dramatic and unexpected impacts on regional and global fire activity. A warmer world means a longer fire season, more lightning activity, and most importantly drier fuels. Drier fuels means it is easier for a fire to start, to spread and it means more fuel is available to burn that leads to higher intensity fires that are difficult to impossible to extinguish. Existing studies suggest regional increases in fire occurrence and area burned although there is significant temporal and spatial variability. Our fire regime is driven by extremes, and we expect an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme fire weather episodes. Climate change will likely mean more wildfire in the future for many regions of the world including Canada. We will have to learn to live with wildfire.
Presenter: Mike Flannigan is the Research Chair for Predictive Services, Emergency Management and Fire Science at Thompson Rivers University and the Scientific Director of the Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science. He received his BSc (Physics) from the University of Manitoba, his MS (Atmospheric Science) from Colorado State University and his PhD (Plant Sciences) from Cambridge University. Dr. Flannigan has been studying fire and weather/climate interactions including the potential impact of climatic change, lightning-ignited forest fires for over 40 years.