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Recent research suggests fire frequency could increase 25% and large fires could triple in frequency specifically across the Southwest in the years ahead. Even though wildfires are a natural part of the many ecosystems, climate change has driven and likely will continue to drive a wildfire increase. This increase not only can negatively impact human infrastructure but can also damage animal habitat and spread invasive plant species. Wildfires in Colorado are teaching management lessons for conservation in a changing climate.
Climate Change and Wildlife Health: Direct and Indirect Effects highlights how awareness has been growing in recent years about zoonotic diseases — that is, diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans, such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus — due to climate change. The rise of such diseases results from closer relationships among wildlife, domestic animals, and people, allowing more contact with diseased animals, organisms that carry and transmit a disease from one animal to another (vectors), and people.
As California experiences one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, NASA is leveraging its resources to help.
The frequency of large wildfires and the total area burned have been steadily increasing, especially in the Western United States.
In addition to monitoring active fires, NASA is working to improve fire activity tracking and forecasting and well as quantify impacts of smoke and cloud interactions on weather and climate models.
WRI’s Western U.S. Wildfires and the Climate Change Connection Fact Sheet reports that over the past 30 years there has been a fourfold increase in the number of large and long-duration forest fires in the American West. Size of wildfires has been increasing, with more than half the U.S. Western states experiencing their largest wildfire on record since 2000, and the length of the fire season has expanded by 2.5 months.