Date: December 09, 2014 Author: Brandon Winters

Global warming is a scientific phenomenon that results from increasing levels of greenhouse gases produced by humans. The effects of global warming on the environment are numerous, but its impact on the incidence of wildland fires is seldom discussed. According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), global warming will increase the occurrence of wildland fires for four reasons: long fire seasons, dry conditions, more fuel for fires and increased lightning strikes.

Long Fire Seasons

Global warming causes spring runoff to occur earlier than normal and makes summer heat build up faster than it did decades ago. The phenomenon also makes warm temperatures last well into fall, causing snow to melt before winter is complete. The result of these effects is a longer than normal fire season due to increasingly dry conditions in the wild.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, global warming can cause forests to become combustible within a month of when snowmelt is finished. Today, snowmelt in warmer regions of the U.S. is occurring one to four times earlier than it did five decades ago. If the trend continues, the need for additional wildland firefighters will increase over the coming years.   

Dry Conditions

Based on current global warming data, the Western U.S. is becoming increasingly dry. In the next 40 years, the average temperature in this part of the nation is expected to increase by as much as 9 percent, and precipitation is expected to decrease by up to 15 percent. As the aridity of the Western U.S. increases, the incidence of wildfires is likely to rise due to dry conditions.

If wildfires increase as expected due to dry conditions, some fire departments in arid areas will likely need additional wildland firefighters. If you are a firefighter interested in adding wildland firefighting to your list of qualifications, now is a good time to do it. To get started, order a copy of Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed., from our online store.

More Fuel for Fires

Wildfires need a supply of combustible material to ignite and spread. Global warming provides this material by extending seasonal warmth, a situation that creates an increasing number of dead trees due to insect infestations. The longer warm weather lasts in the summer and the earlier it starts in the winter, the more time insects have to kill healthy trees.

Adding to the problem of insect infestation is the effect that dry conditions have on tree bark. When bark is dry, it is easier for insects to penetrate. After bugs do their work and kill a tree, the wood becomes dry and thus susceptible to igniting wildfires. To learn about fighting these fires, order a copy of Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed. from our online store.

Increased Lightning Strikes

Lightning is a beautiful manifestation of nature, but it can also act as a catalyst for forest fires. According to the National Wildlife Federation, a 1.8°F increase in the average temperature of the Western U.S. would result in up to a 6 percent increase in lightning strikes. Over the next 40 years, lightning strikes in this region are expected to increase by up to 40 percent.

If you are a firefighter who wants to expand your skill set to fight wildfires, now is a great time to do it. If you are stationed in the Western part of the country, your skills as a wildland firefighter will bring an increased demand for your services. To acquire the skills you need, order Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed, from our online store.  

Interested in Fighting Wildfires?

If you are a firefighter who is interested in battling wildfires, Firebooks has the educational resources you need to succeed in the classroom and the field. Particularly helpful is Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed., a text that places heavy emphasis on firefighter safety and addresses all aspects of battling blazes in the wild. Order your copy of Firefighter's Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, 3rd Ed. from our online store today.

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