Sun July 14, 2013

New Map Charts Colorado's Rising Risk Of Wildfire

The last 40 years has seen a lot of changes in the west, including the likelihood of wildfires.

Colorado, along with California, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming has seen the number of large fires double sincee the 1970s, according to Climate Central. Arizona and Idaho's numbers have tripled or quadrupled.

"Over the same span, average spring and summer temperatures across 11 Western states have increased by more than 1.5°F, contributing to the higher fire risks. Spring temperatures in Arizona have warmed faster than any other state in the U.S., rising nearly 1°F per decade since 1970, which has likely played a key role in Arizona’s rapid increase in fires over the past two decades," says Climate Central's website.

Climate Central asserts that "years with abnormally warm spring and summer temperatures tend to be years with more and bigger fires. For example, 2012 was the hottest spring and summer on record for Colorado, and the state also saw its second-highest number of large fires."

Correlation or Causation?

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, some atmospheric scientists don't agree. The newspaper reports that "Janice Coen, a project scientist at Boulder's National Center for Atmospheric Research who studies the effects of weather on wildfire behavior, cautioned against drawing too much from the broad outlines of the historical record offered by Climate Central's mapping tool."

You can check out Climate Central's full report here.