In the Media

Megafires – a vicious climate circle?

May 10, 2011

BBC blogs

 

The term “megafire” sounds a bit serious… and so it is. Even more serious is the idea – raised in a report compiled for a UN meeting this week – that megafires are becoming more frequent. Kalimantan on Borneo in 1997/8, Brazil in 1998, the US in 2003, Greece in 2007, Botswana in 2008, Australia in 2009, and both Israel and Russia in 2010. Is there a pattern across these fires?

 

The answer appears to be a cautious “yes – probably”. Virtually all had a human cause – mostly intentional – ranging from lighting camp fires in Europe to clearing forests for farmland in Indonesia. Extreme weather, especially drought, was another common factor. And in virtually all, the forest had been “altered” as a result of intensive logging, land clearance, and development for human settlement.

 

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Keywords: Australia, Botswana, Brazil, climate feedback, FAO, Fire, Greece, human causes, Indonesia, Israel, megafire, Russia, USA, weather