Total acres burned in U.S. wildfires, 1960-2017. Data: NIFC. Graphic: James P. Galasyn

17 December 2017 (Desdemona Despair) – The year 2017 is on track to be the third worst year on record for wildfires in the United States.

Driven by California’s deadliest wildfire season on record, including the third-largest wildfire in state history, 2017 is making a run at the Number Two spot, as California’s wildfire season stretches to the very end of the year.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) keeps track of the annual size and number of wildfires, and its latest report shows 2017 in third place, with more than 9.4 million acres burned. The all-time record for most area burned was set in 2015, at more than 10 million acres.

Year  Number of fires  Total acres burned
2006 96,385 9,873,745
2007 85,705 9,328,045
2011 74,126 8,711,367
2004 65,461 8,097,880
2002 73,457 7,184,712

2017 adds to the list of recent record-breaking years – all of the Top Ten wildfire seasons have occurred since 2000.

The U.S. wasn’t alone. In Canada, British Columbia suffered through its worst wildfire season on record, when 19 fires merged to create the largest wildfire ever recorded in B.C. A state of emergency was declared across the entire province. Along the West Coast of North America, air pollution from wildfire smoke spiked to dangerous levels, from San Francisco to Vancouver, and over Canada’s Northwest Territories and Yukon and Nunavut provinces. A new term for the region’s unprecedented levels of air pollution entered the lexicon: the “Smoke Belt”.

In B.C. and California, fire risk increased because of a very wet spring that encouraged growth of fuels, followed by record-breaking heat later in the season, which dried them out. As the world warms, we can expect this cycle to intensify. In a decade or two, we may yearn for the time when the largest forest fires burned “only” nine million acres.



Blog Template by Adam Every . Sponsored by Business Web Hosting Reviews