Scientists found evidence that links western wildfires to Atlantic Ocean temperatures:
Using fire scars on nearly 5,000 tree stumps dating back 450 years, scientists have found that extended periods of major wildfires in the West occurred when the North Atlantic Ocean was going through periodic warming.
With the North Atlantic at the start of a recurring warming period that typically lasts 20 to 60 years, the West could be in for an extended period of multiple fires on the scale of those seen in 2002 and 2006, said Thomas W. Swetnam. He's director of the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research at the University of Arizona and a co-author of the study published in the Dec. 26 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"This study and others have demonstrated that there is an underlying climatic influence on fuels and then on the weather conditions that promote fires," said Dan Cayan, climate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who did not take part in the study.