As reported previously on IHRR’s blog (see Recent devastating forest fires in US) wildfires have been a severe environmental hazard for the western US. According to the National Interagency Fire Center 8,828,875 acres have been burnt this year (896,664 if you include current active fires), with around 10 percent of burnt acreage in California. The numbers continue to go up.
The increase in size and frequency of wildfires in the US has been attributed to the effects of climate change which has decreased winter snow cover leading to an early spring and making heat waves more intense. The Bagley fire pictured below near Big Bend, California burned a total of 46,011 acres. It was one of a number of large fires that occurred in the western US.
This chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the the number of fires and acres burned from 2000-12.
Fires in Russia this past summer have also been severe with more than 30 million hectares (74 million acres) burnt through August, mostly in Siberia. The high amount of carbon monoxide these large fires emit into the atmosphere is also of concern as fires (particularly smouldering) are one of its largest sources.
References and Further Reading
Bagley Fire Burn Scar. NASA