Nearly a third of southern Sierra forests killed by drought and wildfire in last decade – study
In July, scientists at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research published the results of a study which found the number of wildland fires across the southern Sierra Nevada had increased between 2003 and 2014, primarily due to drought and climate change. In recent years, the scientists estimated that more than 5% of southern Sierra forests have been lost to wildfire.
An earlier study published in 2010 analyzed the causes of the Sierra Fire, a series of wildfires that occurred in the summer of 2008 alone, from a variety of perspectives and identified the main causes of the fires, the main factors in the weather that lead to the fires, and the main drivers of climate change. The paper also analyzed the relationship between climate change and wildfire and other natural and manmade fires. The study estimated that about 36.5% of the vegetation in the South Sierra was burned by natural fires between 2003 and 2012.
The new study, which was published online January 29 in the journal Nature Communications, expands and reanalyzes this data and finds that the percentage of the Sierra that burned by fire has increased to about 35.4% in the past 10 years.
The authors of the 2009 paper, including senior study author, climatologist Edward Chang, and UC Berkeley’s Michael Thacker and Edward R. Majewski, now have a better understanding of the causes and effects of the Sierra Fire.
“This study, for the first time, provides data to address directly the question of how much of the forests of the southern Sierra were burned by wildfire between 2003 and 2014,” said Chang. “We also can provide a much needed assessment of the relative importance of climate change and wildfire on the southern Sierra forests.”
The amount of forest that was burned by fire in southern Sierra has increased between 2003 and 2014 at nearly 3% each year during the same period
The new study, which was published online January 29 in the journal Nature Communications, reports that California’s southern Sierra has experienced a recent increase in the number of fire-related deaths and the percentage of forests that have