Drought triggers more overnight wildfires, finds B.C. scientist

By Stefan Labbé
Vancouver is Awesome
March 13, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Night has typically been a time for wildland firefighters to rest and regroup before temperatures spike in the morning. But according to a new study, drought is turning the “active day, quiet night” model on its head, and may force firefighters to rethink how they fight fires.  The study, published in the journal Nature Wednesday, used satellite imaging to track 1,095 overnight burning events in 340 wildfires across North America between 2017 and 2020. Researchers from the University of Alberta, Canadian Forest Service and Thompson Rivers University found 99 per cent of overnight burns were connected to the big fires larger than 1,000 hectares — fires mostly found in the continent’s western mountainous areas. While making up only 10 per cent of fires over the study period, these fires accounted for 90 per cent of North America’s burned area. …The results have major implications for firefighters, who often rely on reduced nighttime conditions to rehydrate and sleep. 

Additional coverage by the Canadian Press in the Medicine Hat News: Night once brought firefighting reprieve, but no longer, Canadian study shows

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