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UK Wildfires? Blame Them On Global Warming!

April 27, 2019
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By Paul Homewood

h/t Joe Public

 

 

UK’s wildfires are due to climate change!

 

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Firefighters tackle a blaze on moorland in northwest England on 21 April

The UK has been hit by nearly a hundred large wildfires in 2019, making it the worst year on record already.

The hot spell in February and the recent Easter heatwave have contributed to a total of 96 major wildfires of 25 hectares or larger, eclipsing the previous high of 79 across the whole of 2018.

Researchers told New Scientist that the figures, collated by the European Forest Fire Information System, were evidence that climate change had already heightened the risk of wildfires in the UK.

More than 100 firefighters battled wildfires over the Easter weekend across Illkley Moor and Marsden Moor in West Yorkshire. Another fire broke out on moorland near Marsden on Tuesday afternoon, requiring ten fire engines to attend.

Fires throughout the year

There were also wildfires in Cornwall, Dorset, Derbyshire, Northern Ireland, the Peak District, Rotherham, Wiltshire and Wales, according to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

Scotland was affected by fires across the Highlands, including a large one that posed a “serious risk” to the Moray windfarm.

The spate of blazes follows a series of major wildfires during the hot, dry weather of 2018, including the Saddleworth Moor fire near Manchester, which burned for five days and made pollution levels spike.

Paul Hedley, national wildfires lead for the NFCC, said it was “really significant” that the number of large wildfires in 2019 had already overtaken 2018’s tally so early in the year.

The big change he has observed is that the wildfires are no longer confined to the traditional season of fires from late March to late September. “What seemed to happen last year and is happening this year, is we are not talking about a wildfire season – we are getting significant wildfires happening throughout the year,” says Hedley.

The scale and duration of the wildfires was a huge stretch on fire and rescue service resources, Hedley adds.

Spring is the point in the year when flammability peaks, with the most dead leaf and woody matter available to burn, says Thomas Smith of the London School of Economics, in the UK.

Barbeques and arson

Layered on top of that seasonal risk has been fire-friendly weather and an increased risk of ignition through accidents, such as a barbeque in the case of the West Yorkshire blazes, or arson.

“Both the fires in February and over this Easter weekend coincided with long warm dry periods with steady easterly winds – fire weather – and also with ignition risk from school holidays,” says Smith.

Weather that is conducive to wildfires has become more likely in recent decades, with the average length of warm spells increasing from 5.3 to 13.2 days in recent years.

wild fires in the UK

“I would argue that those statistics suggest that we are already experiencing climate change and that it has already led to increasing wildfire risk,” Smith adds. He says the past two years have been the worst for UK wildfires that he can remember.

The total area burned in 2019 so far is 17,199 hectares, almost on a par with the highs of 2018 and 2011, but with eight months of the year left to go.

The rural nature of most UK wildfires means relatively little property is damaged compared to the multibillion-dollar cost of Californian wildfires. But they draw fire engines away from towns and cities, increasing fire risk there, and can cause health problems by causing pollution levels to rise, as happened in Greater Manchester last year.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2200502-the-uk-has-already-had-more-wildfires-in-2019-than-any-year-on-record/

  

Only one slight problem. The European Forest Fire Information System, which provides the figures for the “record” claims, only started collecting data in 2011!

 

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http://effis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/static/effis_stats/effis-estimates/GB

 

 

As for the dry weather, which has led to this latest spate of fires, dry springs are nothing new in England.

 

England Rainfall - Spring

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/actualmonthly

 

Rainfall in March alone totalled 89mm, so this spring is already wetter than several others on record.

 

But who needs facts, when you can blame it on global warming!

20 Comments
  1. Peter Yarnall permalink
    April 27, 2019 11:51 am

    Living in the West Pennines, I see this at first hand. However, years ago we saw controlled burning each spring, we called it “swailing”. Wiping out the old thatch and helping re-growth, it worked beautifully and we never saw wild fires.
    However, enter the bleeding hearts environmentalists and all this gets banned, leading to the problems we now see.

  2. john cooknell permalink
    April 27, 2019 12:02 pm

    Dry Aprils are quite common in UK and often lead to dead winter undergrowth being set on fire.

    In the days of steam trains it was a common sight for embankments to be set ablaze. Nobody blamed global warming, it was just like that,

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 28, 2019 12:37 pm

      And when the steam trains went they saved money on clearing the embankments so trains became delayed by leaves on the lines in autumn. On my old line photographs showed the huge difference in vegetation. Somebody finally realised the problem and one weekend the line took a step back in time. With the addition of a cleaning train, the old leaf delay timetable became a thing of the past.

  3. Christopher Lynch Lynch permalink
    April 27, 2019 12:09 pm

    I absolutely love that “evidence” set for frequency of wildfires – that starts in 2011!
    Just like starting Arctic sea ice extent records in 1979. Just another example of adherence to a political ideology absolutely corrupts any sense of scientific integrity.

  4. john cooknell permalink
    April 27, 2019 12:10 pm

    We used to burn the stubble in fields after harvest, by accident that cleared out a lot of dead undergrowth in hedges and field margins etc.

  5. jack broughton permalink
    April 27, 2019 12:47 pm

    I have not seen one claim of damage due to global warming that Paul could not destroy in a few lines. Maybe some enterprising journalist could look at these dangerously intended claims and bring the whole shameful “fear campaign” to the public-eye without being fired?

    Hope springs eternal!

    • alexei permalink
      April 27, 2019 7:23 pm

      They are as captive to their jobs as the public are to their sensationalist headlines

  6. Bill Berry permalink
    April 27, 2019 1:27 pm

    Could the increase in the frequency of arson be attributable to YouTube? There is always someone there to record it.

  7. April 27, 2019 1:46 pm

    The moors would be classified as “fire-maintained” formations as are savannahs and chaparral formations. We have heath balds in the high mountains of West Virginia and other states of the Southern Appalachians which are fire-maintained.

  8. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 27, 2019 5:06 pm

    Old gorse, heather, bracken etc. will burn whatever the weather, most deliberate burning takes place in the wetter months.

    Malicious/terrorists idiots and the insane fad for vile anti-social disposable BBQs are what is increasingly to blame for fires, not imperceptible climate change.

  9. bobn permalink
    April 27, 2019 6:43 pm

    Yes. The increase in fires without much change in circumstanceas does point to the increase being caused by an increase in arson. The Eco-fascists will gladly light fires to sponsor their propaganda.

  10. alexei permalink
    April 27, 2019 7:25 pm

    A relative living in Spain tells me that arson is known to be a major contributor to wildfires there.

  11. Ed Bo permalink
    April 27, 2019 8:19 pm

    A few years ago, I went to a regional track meet my kids were running in. As they announced the results of each event, in about half of the events they proclaimed the winning time “a new meet record!” So I checked in the program, and it turned out that it was just the second year for this meet.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 28, 2019 12:40 pm

      LOL! Not unlike the changing of football facts to just the premier era….

  12. James Aldus permalink
    April 28, 2019 9:16 am

    I was interested in how few fires there were in 2012. Then I remembered it rained all the way through spring as I was working outdoors on the Olympics at the time. Is there data to correlate rainfall to wildfires?

    • April 28, 2019 9:59 am

      The wettest summer “ever” I seem to recall!

      Although it was very dry in March, before the heavens opened in April

      • Joe Public permalink
        April 28, 2019 4:02 pm

        This one – the one set to shape British the then future British summers, except the warm dry ones?

      • Joe Public permalink
        April 28, 2019 4:05 pm

        This one? The one “set shape of British summers to come?” [Except of course, dry & bright ones]

        “It’s been a dull, damp few months and some scientists think we need to get used to it.”

        https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/aug/08/shape-of-british-summers-to-come

      • Joe Public permalink
        April 28, 2019 4:07 pm

        Hi Paul

        The first reply didn’t appear immediately, & I thought it’d been rejected ‘cos it included a jpg, so I repeated it. Would you delete one or the other please?

      • April 28, 2019 5:46 pm

        Done

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