Thursday, February 24, 2022 - 09:45

Indonesia’s peatlands, California’s forests, and, now, vast swathes of Argentine wetland have all been ravaged by extreme wildfires, heralding a fiery future and the dire need to prevent it.

With climate change triggering droughts and farmers clearing forests, the number of extreme wildfires is expected to increase 30% within the next 28 years. And they are now scorching environments that were not prone to burning in the past, such as the Arctic’s tundra and the Amazon rainforest.

“We’ve seen a great increase in recent fires in northern Syria, northern Siberia, the eastern side of Australia, and India,” said Australian government bushfire scientist Andrew Sullivan, an editor on the report, released Wednesday, by the UN Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal environmental communications group.

At the same time, the slow disappearance of cool, damp nights that once helped to temper fires also means they are getting harder to extinguish, according to a second study published last week in the journal Nature.

With night-time temperatures rising faster than day-time ones over the last four decades, researchers found a 36% increase in the number of after-dark hours that were warm and dry enough sustain fire.

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