Research shows climate change directly influences wildfire severity

Posted at 5:20 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 20:20:33-04

(KERO) — Research shows climate change directly influences wildfires and the severity of wildfire events. One scientist says people have a huge impact on things like fires.

University of California Berkeley forest ecologist and climate change scientist Patrick Gonzales says transportation and carbon pollution are driving factors around climate change and increased wildfire risk. But he also says politics also come into play.

Outdated policies that put a stop to the natural fire cycle in forests create overcrowded areas where smaller trees that are less fire-resistant grow between larger trees. The overabundance increases the chance of a low-burning surface fire growing rapidly into a high-intensity event. He says the amount of smaller trees and dead woody debris increases the severity risk dramatically.

"This combination of climate change and wood accumulation has increased burned area ten times since 1984. Climate change alone has doubled the area burned by wildfire over natural levels across the western U.S."

Gonzales says there are several ways to mitigate the amounts of small trees and dead wood which will help restore natural burning cycles in forests. The first is allowing remote natural fires to burn. And to be proactive in managing controlled burns by setting low-severity fires during cooler weather.


Put together your emergency supply kit long before a wildfire or other disaster occurs and keep it easily accessible so you can take it with you when you have to evacuate.

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist:

  • Face masks or coverings
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Prescriptions or special medications
  • Change of clothing
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • An extra set of car keys, credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
  • Don’t forget pet food and water!

Items to take if time allows:

  • Easily carried valuables
  • Family photos and other irreplaceable items
  • Personal computer information on hard drives and disks
  • Chargers for cell phones, laptops, etc.

Always keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed and handy in case of a sudden evacuation at night.