FW: Climate Change and Record-Breaking Forest Fires

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Teresa Matteson

Aug 10, 2023, 12:49:12 PM8/10/23
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From: NOAA/NIDIS <nidis....@noaa.gov>
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2023 9:00 AM
To: Teresa Matteson <tmat...@bentonswcd.org>
Subject: Climate Change and Record-Breaking Forest Fires


Dry Times - August 10, 2023


August 10, 2023

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Study Finds Climate Change to Blame For Record-Breaking California Wildfires



This is the second NIDIS-funded study in three years that found that anthropogenic climate change is increasing the wildfire threat in the western United States.



Caption: Boulder Creek, California - August 20, 2020. A home is fully engulfed in flames on after being set alight by the CZU Lightning Complex wildfire. Source: Shutterstock. Jaden Schaul


While the 2023 wildfire season across California and the rest of the western U.S. has been relatively quiet after the wet winter, record-breaking forest fires during California’s summer months have become a common occurrence. Environmental observations indicate that summer burned areas (BA) in northern and central California increased fivefold during 1996 to 2021 compared to 1971 to 1995. A new NIDIS-funded study has found that nearly all the observed increase in BA over the past half-century is due to anthropogenic climate change. It is estimated that from 1971 to 2021, anthropogenic climate change contributed to a 172% increase in BA, with a 320% increase from 1996 to 2021. In the coming decades, a further increase in annual forest BA is expected, ranging from 3 to 52%.


The results from this study are consistent with a 2021 NIDIS-funded study, that found that climate change is the main driver of increasing fire weather in the western United States. In that study, researchers with the University of California, Los Angeles found that the increase in fire weather was due to a the rapid increase of surface air vapor pressure deficit, or VPD, a measure of how thirsty the atmosphere is. These studies represent an important step toward overall accountability of the impacts of climate change. The studies were funded in part by NIDIS through the NOAA's Climate Program Office Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, & Projections (MAPP) program.








News & Updates




Tool to Help Decision-Makers Navigate Complex Drought Scenarios


Effective drought response involves interdisciplinary collaboration by diverse groups including landowners, business owners, scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and managers and policymakers within Tribal, local, state, and federal government agencies. However, it is not clear how differing expertise can complicate collaboration. A team of researchers funded by the USGS Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) examined the strengths, weaknesses, and outcomes of these interdisciplinary collaborations to understand how and why the diverse groups take certain actions. Their analysis resulted in a typology to support groups navigating complex drought management projects that accounts for multiple scales and dynamics of drought choices. Learn more >



Dry, Hot Summer in the Southwest


Back in mid-May, the National Weather Service Phoenix Office predicted that the 2023 Southwest Monsoon would be late in arriving and that conditions were ripe for a much warmer and drier-than-normal summer overall. These predictions have proved accurate so far and forecasts predict more of the same for the rest of the summer. While the extremely wet winter cleared out most drought in the region, the hot, dry summer is bringing it back. The August 1 U.S. Drought Monitor shows 16.5% of the region in drought and 33% abnormally dry. Learn more >


NIDIS and Partners to Chair Sessions on Drought at 104th AMS Annual Meeting


The American Meteorological Society is hosting its 104th annual meeting on Jan 28–Feb 1, 2024, in Baltimore, Maryland. NIDIS is excited to co-chair sessions during the 38th Conference on Hydrology on Advancements in Analysis and Prediction of Drought. One of these sessions will likely be featured as a Presidential Session. Other sessions will cover flash drought monitoring, predictability, and impacts in a changing climate, as well as tools and products for real-time climate monitoring. Most abstracts are due by Aug 24, 2023. Learn more >




National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook


The latest National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook predicts above normal significant fire potential in August, and to a lesser degree September, across a diverse set of U.S.regions and states. Much of the Northwest, Upper Midwest, Texas into the South, and Hawaii have above normal fire potential in both August and September. Parts of the Southwest, Southeast, and Alaska have above normal fire potential in August but not September, although that could change with the next update on September 1. Learn more >






NOAA Seeks Comment to Inform More Equitable Climate Service Delivery


NOAA has released a Request for Information (RFI) that seeks feedback on its delivery of climate data, information, science and tools, or “climate services,” to help ensure that this vital information reaches all U.S. communities in a way that is accessible, inclusive and usable. Learn more >


Sign Up for the NIHHIS Heat Beat Newsletter


The Heat Beat newsletter, by NOAA's National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), provides information for those concerned about extreme urban heat in their communities. Subscribers will get ideas for running and publicizing heat-mapping campaigns, and learn ways urban heat issues can be addressed. Sign up here >





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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was authorized by Congress in 2006 (Public Law 109-430) with an interagency mandate to develop and provide a national drought early warning information system, by coordinating and integrating drought research, and building upon existing federal, tribal, state, and local partnerships.


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