Frequent wildfires indicate need to combat climate change 2009-09-01 18:26:30   Print

    BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Wildfires have struck with increasing force in many parts of the world in recent years and experts suspect climate change has played a key role in the disasters.

    Several wildfires continued to burn in Los Angeles County on Monday and Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who toured the area, proclaimed a state of emergency in the region.

    Memories of the 2007 forest fires in California had yet to fade away as the new wildfires started, charring around 1,300 hectares of land and threatening thousands of homes.

    Fires in Greece devoured thousands hectares of forest and farm lands and forced thousands to abandon homes near Athens last month, only two years after a series of wildfires killed 77 people in the country.

    Australia also witnessed huge wildfires in February -- the number of casualties and affected areas both set record highs for the nation.

    The frequent wildfires have forced experts to take a fresh look at their possible causes. Many are looking at global warming and climate change as possible causes because there also have been more droughts that make it harder to put out the fires.

    The U.S. National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for southern Californian over the weekend as a combination of low humidity and hot temperatures combined to wreak havoc on the region.

    The mercury shot to 38 degrees Celsius, breaking a record that had stood for nearly 30 years.

    Hot weather also dominated southern Europe when wildfires broke out in Greece in 2007 and again this August.

    "Australia's fires, the world's fires" was the title of a Christian Science Monitor editorial after the forest fires down under.

    "Scientists can't link this specific event to global warming, but they forecast a need to adapt to erratic weather. This has implications for fire preparedness the world over," the article said.

    A study led by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, linked climate change to recent increases in large forest fires.

    "Rising seasonal temperatures and the earlier arrival of spring conditions" are connected to a dramatic increase in large wildfires in the western United States, the study said.

Editor: An
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