Risk of wildfires will rise with climate change

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Climate change is increasing the risk and severity of wildfires, according to a Rapid Response Review of 57 peer-reviewed papers.

Scientists from the University of East Anglia, Met Office Hadley Centre, University of Exeter, Imperial College London and CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere reviewed the papers published by IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report in 2013.

The studies all showed a link between climate change and increased frequency or severity of fire weather – periods with a high fire risk due to a combination of high temperatures, low humidity, low rainfall and often high winds.

Professor Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office Hadley Centre and co-author of the report, said, “Fire weather does occur naturally but is becoming more severe and widespread due to climate change. Limiting global warming to well below 2°C would help avoid further increases in the risk of extreme fire weather.”

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