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Report finds human-induced climate change played major role in BC wildfires

Ellen Cools

January 9, 2019
By Ellen Cools


Jan. 9, 2019 – A study by scientists at Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria has concluded that human influences on the climate had a strong impact on B.C.’s 2017 wildfire season and increased the risk of wildfires.

According to a news release, the area burned was seven to eleven times larger than would have been expected without human influence.

Using climate simulations, the study compared two scenarios: one with realistic amounts of human influence on the climate and one with minimal influence. Based on the results, researchers found the high summer temperatures during B.C.’s 2017 wildfire season were over 20 times more likely due to climate change. Wildfire ignition and spread is more likely when temperatures are extremely high and conditions are dry.

The study also found that this is a trend likely to intensify in the future, if no other action is taken.

“As the climate continues to warm, we can expect that costly extreme wildfire seasons – like 2017, in B.C. – will become more likely in the future. This will have increasing impacts on many sectors, including forest management, public health and infrastructure,” said Megan Kirchmeier-Young, research scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, in a statement.