Global warming linked to increase in wildfires?

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Some scientists in Arizona and California think so (via Think Progress):

The increase in the number of large western wildfires in recent years may be a result of global warming, researchers say.

An analysis of data going back to 1970 indicates the fires increased “suddenly and dramatically” in the 1980s and the wildfire season grew longer, according to scientists in Arizona and California.

“The increase in large wildfires appears to be another part of a chain of reactions to climate warming,” said Dan Cayan, a co-author of the paper and director of the climate research division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

With global warming naysayers constantly harping on the cost of reduce greenhouse emmissions, perhaps we should point out the millions of dollars being spent to fight wildfires. Here in Grant County, the federal government is spent $17.8 million to fight three wildfires in June.

More from the article:

The researchers used the files of the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service to analyze 1,166 fires of more than about 1,000 acres. Their findings are published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science.

Beginning about 1987, there was a change from infrequent fires averaging about one week in duration to more frequent ones that often burned five weeks or more, they reported. The length of the wildfire season was extended by 78 days.

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