Megadrought “taxes” US reservoirs և ignites forest fires | Climate news

Decades of climate change have been fueled drought Reservoirs in the western United States are drying up and contributing to early forest fires, scientists say.

During this year, the flames burned more than one million acres (more than 404,000 hectares) throughout the country. In 2021, more than 28,000 fires burned. The highest number of fires at this time of year since 2011.

Because people turn to air conditioners to survive heat waves“California և Other states warn people to save energy to avoid power outages.

By: US Drought Monitor“Other western states are experiencing extreme drought conditions. Conditions have been going on for two decades, which makes scientists call it a “megadar”.

“The southwestern United States is in a drought or megacity like we did not see in the Observatory of the Millenniums,” said John von Abatsoglu, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Drought-stricken area of ​​Lake Falls Browns Ravine Cove, now at 37 percent of its normal capacity, dripping water from a tap near a boat dock on dry land on May 22, 2021 in Fallsom, California. [Josh Edelson/AP Photo]

“There is an astronomical part of the earth in the west this year that is experiencing a severe drought,” Abatsoglu said. Last winter and spring, insufficient precipitation և warm temperatures meant low snowfall in the mountains, leading to rapid drying of the land surface.

Forest fires threatening Arizona ranches

Arizona, which has its wildfire season in the spring, has seen the most wildfires and carnage in any state so far this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Out of seven fires, 270,000 acres (109,265 hectares) were burnt throughout the country. The hot and dry conditions forced the Land Management Bureau to impose fire restrictions.

Firefighters are working to prevent the biggest forest fire, the Telegraph Fire, in the mountains of the Tonto National Forest, east of Phoenix, where it burned almost 166,000 acres (67,178 hectares). It now contains 72%, but continues to threaten neighboring communities.

Armando Rodriguez, a bull professional in Winkelman, Arizona, told Al Jazeera he sees the peaks of the smoke hills. The sheriffs warned his community to be “ready” for nearby communities.

In Arizona, on June 7, 2021, due to a forest fire, smoke billows are rising in this picture taken from social networks. [Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management/via Reuters]

“Everyone is more or less packing up to get the green light if they get to the point where they have to leave,” Rodriguez said by telephone on Thursday.

If an evacuation order is received, he intends to call on his neighbors to help him collect 500 cattle, load them on trailers and move them to a safe place.

His family has been running the ranch in the area since the 1960s. “We are no strangers to it,” he said of the forest fires.

In April, fires broke out in nearby Dudleyville, burning at least 12 homes and forcing 200 people to flee, the Associated Press reported.

“We are dealing with fires and floods, so this is not news to us, but it seems to happen more often this year,” said Rodriguez.

Blame it on climate change

“It is not clear whether climate change is directly to blame for the decrease in precipitation in the West this year, but it is certainly to blame for the greater factors accelerating the drought,” Abatsoglu said.

Global warming causes more precipitation to fall in the form of rain instead of snow, which changes the water cycle (the movement of water from the ocean to the atmosphere and back to the earth). Our warming climate also promotes more drying and evaporation.

“Heating mainly acts as a long-term tax on the western water budget,” he explained.

Scientists are waiting for the next dangerous season of forest fires in California.

Lack of snowfall means the plants in the state are dry, fragile and ready to burn. explained Craig Clemens, director of the Wildfire Center for Interdisciplinary Research at San Jose State University. This means that the state will most likely see the forest fire season earlier. Fires become more and more dangerous in summer and autumn.

Clementes said that a combination of factors in California leads to stronger fires. Due to poor management, the forests have been flooded with too many trees and brushes. Forest fires are part of a natural cycle that allows life to flourish, but he explained that “we have not left fires on our ecosystems for a hundred years.”

Climate change is now drying up that extra fuel, so there is plenty of tinder ready to ignite and burn.

In Arizona, Rodriguez hopes it will rain and prays for his community to be safe. “Shout out to all the firefighters, the first responders who are helping now, God be with them, let’s hope no one gets hurt,” he said.

“As long as the fire goes, it is a breathing beast, what will burn will burn,” he added.

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