Every year, it seems that wildfires get a little more frequent and a lot more devastating. And it makes you wonder, as the planet continues to get warmer and the land becomes drier, just how bad will things get? NASA is using two of their satellites, Terra and Aqua, to find an answer to that question, and it isn’t pretty. According to their data, not only will wildfires get worse and more frequent, but they will start popping up in places where they were never problems before.
According to NASA, fires burned nearly 2.5 million acres of land so far this year alone. With each fire, tons of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide are released into the air, compounding the problem. As the planet continues to heat up, the fire situation is increasing as well. Dry places are getting less rain and the trend is going to continue.
In the best case scenario, temperatures go up by 4 degrees, 8 degrees in the worst case, which means more fires — but just how many more? By 2100, the Mountain West will burn even more than it does today. Even worse, areas that don’t burn today, like the Great Plains and Upper Midwest, will start seeing wildfires. That could threaten our food supply, in addition to the threat to homes and life.
NASA’s model is built on the assumption of 1 mm increase of evaporation per day, the maximum projected increase. If things head in this direction, NASA predicts that devastating wildfires, which have become more common, will become even more frequent. In fact, the incredible year that Colorado had in 2012 may just become the new norm. If we want to prevent wildfire, not only do we need to take personal responsibility — like Smokey the Bear always says — but it also relies on our ability to slow global warming.
images from NASA Youtube Video