Wildfire hazard driven by climate change to increase in Mediterranean region
The Mediterranean is one of the world regions threatened with the highest anticipated increases in wildfires. Using climate change projections for the middle of this century, a new study suggests there will be a 35% increase in the days with high danger of fire across the world. Some regions such as the Mediterranean will see even larger increases. The study used imaging instruments aboard two NASA satellites, Terra and Aqua to analyse the most extreme wildfires in recent years, including all incidences of mega-fires causing deaths and that were declared a disaster by a national government.
Mediterranean countries have historically suffered fewer destructive fires, however this may be overturned as cities progressively sprawl into more flammable landscapes. Extreme wildfire events are inevitable features of flammable biomes, and climate change is likely to increase their frequency and global occurrence, particularly in the European Mediterranean Basin and Levant, and in subtropical regions of the Southern Hemisphere. Researchers expect that more extreme wildfires will be seen in these regions over coming decades.
The first European-scale map of areas most at risk of catastrophic fire damage confirms that forest fires are strongly concentrated in Mediterranean countries. This study used satellite maps and statistics on the frequency of large fires in wildland areas which are close enough to cities to make them vulnerable.
“Climate change projections suggest that the geographic footprint of dangerous fire weather is likely to expand globally - explains Prof David Bowman - Climate change is going to make a bad situation worse. It is therefore urgent that humans take steps to reduce their exposure to these extreme fire events, especially if there are going to be more frequent.”