Lucian Deaton

A future of lightning, and wildfire?

Blog Post created by Lucian Deaton Employee on Nov 14, 2014

New research by UCal Berkley on future increases in lightning strikes related to rising global temperatures caused by climate change has been in today’s news on major outlets, including BBC News and National Geographic.
NIFC Lightning-caused fires and acres (2001-2013)
The research examines the relationship between temperature, moisture content, and lightning frequency, finding that, “for every two lightning strikes in 2000, there will be three lightning strikes in 2100.” 

Lightning is an important part of natural wildfire ecology and had played its part since time began.  A possible 50% increase has influence though in the Southwest, Mountain West and Northwest, where a majority of the over 10,000 lightning caused fires occur in the nation.  The National Interagency Fire Center's (NIFC) infographic on major lightning caused fires illustrates this well (at right). 

While 90% of wildfires are human caused, the frequency of lightning strikes and a future of climate change provides strong reminder of the value of mitigation and preparedness for wildfire.  NFPA released detailed lightning caused fire research in 2013 relfecting across all fire service response, wildfire and structural. 

As consolidation, that stormy night sky with rolling clouds in the future will be even more impressive as well.

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