Wildfire burning a forest

Appalachian's Dr. Peter Soulé and UNCG's Dr. Paul Knapp say the connection may be through a phenomenon called the “Arctic Amplification”

Are the devastating wildfires in California potentially linked to larger atmospheric processes related to human-caused climate change? Researchers at Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro believe there might be a connection.

In an article titled “Spatio-Temporal Linkages between Declining Arctic Sea-Ice Extent and Increasing Wildfire Activity in the Western United States” published in late August in the international journal Forests, Dr. Peter Soulé in Appalachian’s Department of Geography and Planning and Dr. Paul Knapp, professor and director of UNCG’s Carolina Tree-Ring Science Lab, present evidence suggesting that the amount of sea-ice found in the Arctic during the winter months is a driving force behind summertime weather conditions that control wildfire activity in the western United States during the summer.

“It is very important that climatologists not blame any individual meteorological or climatological event on human-caused global warming. We always had hurricanes, droughts, wildfires and blizzards. However, we must consider the bigger picture: Are human activities changing the atmosphere in ways that make it more likely for extreme events to occur,” Soulé said.

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Originally published Oct. 12, 2017. Written by Peter Soulé.




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