Should We Expect More Wildfires This Summer?

Reader's Digest Canada|June 2020

Should We Expect More Wildfires This Summer?
We ask Karen Hodges, University of British Columbia ecologist
Courtney Shea

The 2019 fire season in Canada was, relatively speaking, a quiet one—at least in B.C. Might that be a good sign for this year?

Unfortunately, no. To make predictions on the coming fire season, forecasters look at things like available fuel (dead wood), snowfall in the winter and how quickly it gets hot in the spring. These factors vary annually, so while it’s true that last year was less dramatic in Canada, that doesn’t mean anything for this summer.

However, when it comes to longer term patterns, if you look at the last 50 years in Canada and around the world, we’re seeing a greater number of fires, and they’re more severe. Mega fires— the ones that burn more than 10,000 hectares—used to be the exception, but that is no longer the case.

Why is that?

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June 2020