Future Wildfire Seasons to Be Longer, Smokier, Cover More Area

Fire seasons will be three weeks longer, generate twice as much smoke, and cover a larger area of the western U.S. by 2050, a new study from Harvard researchers finds. The risk of large fires could also increase by a
Forest fire
Petruncio Mike, USFWS
factor of two to three. In general, the biggest driver for future fires in Western states will be temperature, but driving factors can vary from region to region, the researchers say. In the Rockies, for example, moisture in the forest floor is the biggest predictor. Wildfires in the Great Basin region, however, will be more heavily influenced by relative humidity in the previous year. The results, published in Atmospheric Environment, are based on records of past fire activity, decades of meteorological data, and a set of internationally recognized climate scenarios.