Climate Change and Wildfires

Gabe Jones

Up to this point in 2020, we have seen devastating effects from climate change already. With hurricanes ravaging our country, fires setting California and the West Coast ablaze, and according to NASA, “This year’s Arctic sea ice cover shrank to the second lowest extent since modern record-keeping began in the late 1970s,” it almost seems as if we are in a natural disaster movie. It is not dumb luck that these events are happening, but actually atmospheric conditions caused by climate change, linked to be results of human actions, have been warned by scientists for many years now.

California is being absolutely scorched with wildfires due to global warming and also the dryness of the whole state. This year California had its worst heat wave ever recorded, helping to dry up the whole state, priming it for reckless wildfires. Then a dry lightning storm hit in August of 2020, sending over 11,000 bursts of lightning over a four-day period spanning from August 15th to the 19th according to Carolyn Gramling of Science News. This lightning storm would go on to burn more than 520,000 hectares of land in California, which is an insane number to even say out loud according to climate scientist Daniel Swain.

Science News reports that the Atlantic hurricane season is already setting several new records, with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting as many as 25 named storms. Due to climate change, the waters in the Atlantic have warmed up a considerable amount over the years, and scientist link warmer ocean temperatures and stronger storms. With the waters getting warmer and warmer every single year, these storms hitting our Gulf Coast are just going to keep hitting harder and getting more and more intense. This has led climate scientists to predict that we are setting the stage for a long period of supercharged hurricanes that are going to hit our Gulf Coast.

Climate change does not stop there, however. The Arctic ice caps are also being heavily affected. The Arctic ice goes through shrinking or melting periods in the summer, and then thicken in the winter. However, with climate change and global warming, the summer periods are extending, causing the ice never to go into that thickening phase. NASA goes on to state that, “There are cascading effects in the Arctic, said Mark Serreze, director of NSIDC. Warmer ocean temperatures eat away at the thicker multiyear ice, and also result in thinner ice to start the spring melt season. Melt early in the season results in more open water, which absorbs heat from the Sun and increases water temperatures.”

According to the American Chemical Society, “The Earth’s climate is changing in response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and particulate matter in the atmosphere, largely as the result of human activities.” Human caused climate change is happening and according to the majority of scientists, it is having a huge effect on our Earth and is not stopping anytime soon.



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