Wildfires

Fired up

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Science  09 Jul 2021:
Vol. 373, Issue 6551, pp. 176-177
DOI: 10.1126/science.373.6551.176-a

Satellite view of the East Troublesome Fire in Grand County, Colorado, on 20 October 2020

PHOTO: NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY IMAGE BY LAUREN DAUPHIN; (DATA) THE U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Climate warming has substantially increased wildfire activity in the western United States, particularly during the first two decades of the 21st century. Higuera et al. illustrate how destructive this trend has become by using a 2000-year-long record of wildfires in the subalpine forests of the Rocky Mountains. Their data show that these forests now are burning more than at any point in the past 2000 years, capped by the extreme fire season of 2020. The current trajectory of climate means that this situation may be expected only to worsen, with unprecedented rates of burning projected in many western forests by midcentury.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 118, e2103135118 (2021).

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