Increased risk of catastrophic wildfires: Global warming's wake-up call for the western United States
More catastrophic wildfires just waiting to happen. This is the situation now facing the American West. Wildfire frequency and severity are increasing because of rising temperatures, drying conditions, and more lightning brought by global warming. When combined with decades of fire suppression that allowed unsafe fuel loads to accumulate, severe bark beetle infestations that are rapidly decimating trees, and ever expanding human settlements in and near forests, the result is increasing vulnerability to major fires. Fire is a natural and beneficial part of many forest ecosystems, but the number and intensity of fires today is challenging fire managers and forest communities throughout the West.