FOR­EST FIRES

Canadian Geographic - - CLIMATE CHANGE -

A he­li­copter uses a drip torch to light a con­trolled burn on a moun­tain­side near Al­berta’s Kananaskis Vil­lage in 2011. The pre­scribed burn, which took years of plan­ning, was aimed at re­duc­ing the over­all fuel load of the for­est to lessen the like­li­hood and sever­ity of a fu­ture for­est fire, and to cre­ate a buf­fer zone near the vil­lage. While sci­en­tists aren’t com­pletely sure about how cli­mate change af­fects for­est fires, re­search shows that the area burned by fire in Canada’s north­ern bo­real for­est has steadily in­creased over the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tury. In Bri­tish Columbia, 2017 and 2018 were the two worst years on record for wild­fires in the prov­ince. Ac­cord­ing to Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada, the fac­tors that cause or con­trib­ute to for­est fires — light­ning, low mois­ture lev­els, high tem­per­a­tures, low pre­cip­i­ta­tion and cer­tain types of veg­e­ta­tion — are ex­pected to in­crease, and the bo­real for­est, which cov­ers more than half of Canada’s land mass, will likely be the most af­fected.

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