Wildfires still plaguing British Columbia, Canada

Wildfires still plaguing British Columbia, Canada
Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC

This year has been particularly hard for British Columbia in their ongoing battles with wildfires. Climate change has caused more wildfires to break out in this area due to hotter temperatures and drier conditions in the summer when wildfires are more apt to break out. The Government of British Columbia has pinpointed the impacts that climate change will have on forest fires going forward.

The Government of British Columbia projects the following impacts in 33 years:

  • Temperatures will increase from 1.3 (current temperature increase) to 2.7 °C expected by 2050 causing more frequent and severe heat waves;
  • Growing seasons that are longer though hampered by more frequent and severe droughts (which also contribute to spreading due to more dry fuel);
  • Even though average annual rainfall is expected to increase from 2% to 12% by 2050, summers will be drier;
  • Increased frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation (storms) resulting in damage to buildings and infrastructure ( and will cause more lightning strikes, and more fire starts);
  • Higher risk of wildfires, insect outbreaks and diseases in our forests.

In British Columbia the current situation is 123 active fires with 23 fires that are threatening communities and structures. (NOTE: The link goes to a current page that is updated daily at midnight so numbers may change.)

At present, though, most of the fires in British Columbia are centered around the Fraser Plateau. This image, taken by NASA's Aqua satellite was collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on August 28, 2017. Each hot spot, which appears as a red mark, is an area where the thermal detectors on the MODIS instrument recognized temperatures higher than background. When accompanied by plumes of smoke, as in this image, such hot spots are diagnostic for .

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