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Study: Fires in Sierras could increase by 50% by 2040 as temperatures rise

Posted at 5:23 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 20:23:32-05

IRVINE, Calif. (KGTV) - A new study published reveals a correlation between hot temperatures during the summer months and wildfires in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Aurora Gutierrez, lead author and UC Irvine project scientist, said they wanted to look at extreme events, like heat waves, and the impact on wildfires. They looked at the temperatures during the summer from 2001-2020 and compared the fires and temperatures. The studies revealed that a majority of fires occur when you have hotter temperatures.

“It makes sense, hotter temperatures, more fires,” said Gutierrez.

The study also reveals that by 2040, fires in the Sierras could increase by about 50%. With each increase of 1º Celsius, fire risk jumps 19-22%.

While it’s generally understood that warmer temperatures increase fire risk, these numbers support that.

“Not only is it just common knowledge, but now you have evidence quantifying the effects that are going to occur in the future,” said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez added that it’s important to understand the numbers in order to know how to prevent fires. This data can motivate people to take fire safety precautions on hot days.

“We need to really consider what we do, what our actions are during really hot days,” said Gutierrez.