Climate Change Will Intensify Arizona's Wildfire Season, Study Says

These ponderosa pines near Alpine burned in the 2011 Wallow Fire. | Tedra Begay

A new study predicts Arizona and its neighbors will see bigger wildfires, and longer wildfire seasons, in the coming decades as a result of climate change.

As The Arizona Republic reported earlier this month, the Climate Central study says that by 2050, fire season in the American Southwest will be more than a month longer. Right now, the state's wildfire season typically runs from late April to at least when the July monsoon storms start.

The study looked at temperature and wildfire records over the past several decades, along with data on forest-soil moisture, which is considered a good indicator of wildfire risk. By the middle of the century, the soil in Arizona's forests is expected to dry enough to add 34 days to the wildfire season.

Arizona has been taking steps to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, including the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, which we told you about in our April issue. But that project, which seeks to return the state's ponderosa pine forests to their pre-settlement condition, has so far fallen short of expectations.

This is as good a time as any to visit Smokey Bear's website to brush up on how to prevent forest fires.

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