Climate change is forecast to burn Yosemite National Park violently in coming years. A new study in the International Journal of Wildland Fire finds the dwindling spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will exponentially increase the number of lightning-ignited fires.
The increase has two causes:
- Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appear to be leading to more lightning strikes.
- Decreasing winter snowpack—conservative climate models predict a 17-percent fall by 2050—will allow more lightning strikes to ignite fires in the park.
The BBC quotes lead author James Lutz of the U of Washington Seattle:
“People already expect more ignitions from hotter summers. But this research suggests that declines in snowpack will have an additional effect.”
In other words, a warming climate is setting up a nasty positive feedback loop, making a bad situation worse.
Come on, world leaders, lead already.