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Al Gore tweeted:

Ferocious wildfire in California forces evacuation of ~3,000 [...] Rising temperatures are making fires worse. (Emphasis mine)

Is this true?

  • I think he means fires as in the forest fires. Higher temperature means more fires should start spontaneous, I assume he means it in that sense, not that individual fires get worse because of the higher temperatures. – Wertilq Jun 5 '13 at 18:04
  • @Wertilq Yes. I just added some context to show he was referring to wildfires. – user5582 Jun 5 '13 at 18:07
  • So worse means MORE fires? BIGGER fires? What exactly is it? – Wertilq Jun 5 '13 at 18:11
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    @Wertilq I think we can assume he's using the plain meaning of the word: "More harmful, painful, grievous, regrettable, unpleasant, offensive, unfavourable, unlucky, etc." (O.E.D.) More fires would be worse. Bigger fires would be worse. – user5582 Jun 5 '13 at 18:16
  • This seems to be a logical conclussion tho, the higher the temprature the faster the forrest dries out. Dried grass/wood and such catches fire alot easier then wet grass/wood. Ofcourse if it was getting warmer but also wetter I would have my doubts. – Lyrion Jun 6 '13 at 8:01
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Measuring forest-fire danger in northern Idaho mentioned a study made in Finland, which found a correlation.

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Yes, higher temperatures leads to more wild fires.

Article from a journal says so:

On page 940 of this issue, Westerling et al. (4) come to a similarly discomforting conclusion for wildfires. They show that warmer temperatures appear to be increasing the duration and intensity of the wildfire season in the western United States.1

The paper it refers to says:

Spatial variability in the wildfire response to an earlier spring. Vulnerability of western U.S. forests to more frequent wildfires due to warmer temperatures is a function of the spatial distribution of forest area and the sensitivity of the local water balance to changes in the timing of spring.2

What Al Gore says thus have some back-up from the scientific community.


1: Science 18 August 2006: Vol. 313, no. 5789, pp. 927-928 Published Online July 6 2006 Is Global Warming Causing More, Larger Wildfires?

2: Science 18 August 2006: Vol. 313, no. 5789, pp. 940-943 Published Online July 6 2006 Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity

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