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Climate Change Now the Main Driver of Increasing Wildfire Weather


 The aftermath of this summers Dixie fire in Greenville, CA.

The aftermath of this summers Dixie fire in Greenville, CA.

Credit: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times

Scientists say climate change is now the primary driver of extreme wildfires in the western U.S., with global warming basically 66% to 88% responsible for the atmospheric conditions fueling the blazes.

Rong Fu of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) said researchers at that institution and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found the atmosphere's vapor pressure deficit is the main meteorological factor determining how much land burns in the western U.S. during a given fire season.

The researchers used machine learning to compare recent vapor pressure deficit values with those witnessed in the past during similar weather patterns.

Fu said only 30% of changing fire weather can now be explained by these patterns, while the rest is caused by global warming from greenhouse gases.

From Los Angeles Times
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