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Global warming means more wildfire for California, study shows

June 12, 2012 |  3:19 pm

Malibu

Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns associated with climate change are likely to increase wildfire levels in California and the West in coming decades, according to a new study.

The research, published Tuesday in the journal Ecosphere, underscores the need for Californians to learn how to coexist with wildfire. "Fire is not going anywhere," said Max Moritz, a UC Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist and the paper’s lead author. “We need to map out where in the landscape it's safe to live and where it's not."

Scientists led by a UC Berkeley team studied 16 global climate models to develop a projection of global wildfire patterns. Although the forecast for the next few decades was inconclusive for about half of the planet, the models were in general agreement that by the end of the century, much of the world will experience more fire than it did in the past decade.

California and the West are expected to experience that jump sooner, with fire frequency rising over the next 30 years.

For more on the study, read Greenspace.

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--Bettina Boxall

Photo: Flames leap above a canyon in a 2007 wildfire in Malibu. Credit:  Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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