Eugene, OR (September 21, 2008) In the recent Nature Geoscience, researchers blamed climate change as the major reason behind wildfires. The study, by a nine-member team from seven institutions, also attributes larges swings in burning to clearance and fire suppression during the industrial era. The data came from the analysis of 406 sedimentary charcoal records from lakebeds on six continents. Charcoal levels can track both the incidence and severity of wildfire activity over long periods of time.
“Based on the charcoal record, we believe the reduction in the amount of biomass burned during those 100 years can be attributed to a global expansion of agriculture and intensive grazing of livestock that reduced fuels plus general landscape fragmentation and fire-management efforts,” said Jennifer R. Marlon, a doctoral student at the University of Oregon, who led the study.
During the last 2,000 years, fire activity was highest in Europe between 1750 and 1870- a time of population growth, massive changes in land cover, and human induced increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. “Our results strongly suggest that climate change has been the main driver of global biomass burning for the past two millennia,” the researchers concluded.
University of Oregon- Scientists See Link between Climate Change, Human Activity, and Wildfires