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Europe Has Descended Into the Age of Fire


Wildfires are becoming increasingly difficult to control because the land is not actively controlled by thinning vegetation and deliberate burning, he said. “The problem is that we as a society only have react Solve problems, build firefighting capabilities,” Castellnou said. “We haven’t built ecosystem management yet. ”

Demographic changes and urban migration are occurring in parallel with climate change. Mediterranean climates—whether in the surrounding areas of the Mediterranean or in similar areas like California—are already prone to wildfires. Rainy winters and springs promote plant growth, and plants dry out and turn into fuel during dry summers. Climate change keeps these conditions drier and hotter for longer. “It’s a performance enhancer,” Pyne said. “We’re seeing climate change amplify these situations.”

“What’s really interesting, though,” added Pine, “is to see the fires start to spread into central Europe.” It’s a more temperate region that doesn’t historically have the strict wet-dry cycle of the Mediterranean.But now it’s suffering from increasingly extreme heatwaves, wildfires can feed on changing conditions per hour During these heat events, even the region hasn’t been caught in the years-long drought that California has.

If a hot, dry wind blows, it can quickly suck moisture from grass, branches, and shrubs—the really flammable things. Large trees may hold moisture and resist burning, but the rest of the vegetation is burning now. “You don’t need to dry the landscape to the point where it is all Tinder,” Pine said. “All you have to do is have enough fuel to carry good fuel so you can create a very fast, fiery flame. ”

As a result, what scientists call Europe’s “fire regime” is changing: the hotter the weather, the more changes in fire behavior. As vegetation becomes drier, so does the amount of energy it releases as it burns. “So in the absence of water, the power of fires increases dramatically, and those fires spread faster,” said Guillermo Rein, who studies fires at Imperial College London. “Some of these fires are literally unstoppable.”

Fire scientists say the best way to mitigate risk is to reduce excess vegetation and conduct more controlled burning. But Rein points out that it can be difficult to sell to the public. “I’m from Spain – I grew up in a world where absolutely all fires are wrong,” he said. Some people oppose smoking, which can worsen respiratory diseases such as asthma. But the alternative is increasingly large, out-of-control fires, spewing more smoke and choking communities for days on end. On days when conditions don’t send smoke to people, firefighters are very careful with controlled burns.

It seems counterintuitive to object to reducing the flame. But the solution is a more controlled and beneficial ignition—effectively fighting fire with fire. “Unfortunately, the actual limiting step is that there are not enough people for the prescribed burn,” Rein said. “The supporters are not enough concept prescribed combustion. ”

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