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Global Warming Drives Wildfires Study–Ignores Pre 1979 Data

September 25, 2020

By Paul Homewood

h/t Philip Bratby

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Climate change is driving the scale and impact of recent wildfires that have raged in California, say scientists.

Their analysis finds an "unequivocal and pervasive" role for global heating in boosting the conditions for fire.

California now has greater exposure to fire risks than before humans started altering the climate, the authors say.

Land management issues, touted by President Donald Trump as a key cause, can’t by themselves explain the recent infernos.

The new review covers more than 100 studies published since 2013, and shows that extreme fires occur when natural variability in the climate is superimposed on increasingly warm and dry background conditions resulting from global warming.

"In terms of the trends we’re seeing, in terms of the extent of wildfires, and which have increased eight to ten-fold in the past four decades, that trend is driven by climate change," said Dr Matthew Jones from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, who led the review.

“Climate change ultimately means that those forests, whatever state they’re in, are becoming warmer and drier more frequently," he told BBC News.

"And that’s what’s really driving the kind of scale and impact of the fires that we’re seeing today."

In the 40 years from 1979 to 2019, fire weather conditions have increased by a total of eight days on average across the world.

However, in California the number of autumn days with extreme wildfire conditions has doubled in that period.

The authors of the review conclude that "climate change is bringing hotter, drier weather to the western US and the region is fundamentally more exposed to fire risks than it was before humans began to alter the global climate".

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54278988

Now why should they start their study in 1979? After all, there is loads of data from earlier years.

A look at NOAA’s rainfall graph for California shows just why:

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https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/national/time-series

Over the full period since 1895, there has been no trend at all in autumn rainfall. However, the 1980s were an unusually wet decade. Hardly surprising then that the Met Office have found more days with extreme wildfire conditions since then!

 

Temperatures show a similar pattern, with the 1980s and 90s being an unusually cold period. Looking at the overall record, autumn temperatures in recent years have been no higher than the period between 1930 and 1960:

 

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We are used to seeing such flagrantly misleading use of data by the likes of Katharine Hayhoe. By following suit, the Met Office and University of East Anglia have sunk to new lows.

35 Comments
  1. Broadlands permalink
    September 25, 2020 2:02 pm

    “The authors of the review conclude that “climate change is bringing hotter, drier weather to the western US and the region is fundamentally more exposed to fire risks than it was before humans began to alter the global climate”.

    Besides continuing to blame it on humanity, what do these authors recommend we do about it that could possibly make a difference to the Earth’s climate?

    • Mack permalink
      September 25, 2020 2:32 pm

      I dare say it probably hasn’t been as hot and dry lately as during the 200 year long megadroughts that California used to endure before ‘pale faces’ turned up on the continent with all of their global warming toys. But, of course the Met Office/UEA don’t appear to do history – it’s all activist journalism now.

  2. Phillip Bratby permalink
    September 25, 2020 2:22 pm

    I didn’t think it was possible for the Met Office and the University of Easy Access to sink even lower. I blame it on that Creative Writing course that they teach at UEA. Certainly they gave up years ago doing proper science where you use proper data.

  3. Broadlands permalink
    September 25, 2020 2:35 pm

    It has been pointed out earlier at other posts that the risk of wildfires correlates and increases as the population…the number of people visiting the forests increases. Accidental, or even intentional arson, is the cause of most of them, not “global warming”. This is another very good reason not to try and plant millions of trees. Even lightning cannot be prevented from starting wildfires.

  4. bobn permalink
    September 25, 2020 2:44 pm

    “the Met Office and University of East Anglia have sunk to new lows.”
    Well no actually. They sunk to the depths 15yrs ago when they were the principle authors of the Climategate Scam to alter data and evidence to create a fake alarm. This is just their cesspit of anti-science voodoo continuing their scams. UEA is corrupt, anti-science, and needs to be closed down.

  5. Gamecock permalink
    September 25, 2020 3:01 pm

    ‘Climate change is driving the scale and impact of recent wildfires that have raged in California, say scientists.’

    Proving succinctly that they are not scientists.

    • dennisambler permalink
      September 25, 2020 10:49 pm

      Say some scientists…other scientists disagree.

      The old “scientists say” routine.

  6. Geoff B permalink
    September 25, 2020 3:08 pm

    When you see such blatant cherry picking of data to show your desired outcome, it destroys the credibility of UEA and Met office. But to be blunt, it just confirms that it is all a scam, remember climategate…..

  7. jack broughton permalink
    September 25, 2020 3:35 pm

    This proves conclusively that Climate science is not real science, should be called Climate Science-fiction. No proper scientists would present results and conclusions that are so blatantly incorrect and real peer-review would reject it immediately.

    The “i” yesterday (as gullible and dishonest as the BBC) published a scientists prediction that if the Earth temperature rose by 10 deg K the Antarctic ice would melt…… according to some mathematical model of the climate.

  8. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    September 25, 2020 4:04 pm

    Seattle resident and atmospheric scientist, Cliff Mass, shot this idea down.
    He is a luke-to-moderate warmer; but good person and very knowledgeable.
    https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2020/09/did-global-warming-play-significant.html

    I think this was cross-posted on WUWT.

    I never click on the BBC’s climate headlines, believing they count clicks as positive.

  9. September 25, 2020 4:04 pm

    “Land management issues, touted by President Donald Trump as a key cause, can’t by themselves explain the recent infernos”

    Except that the infernos were only on state managed forests.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/09/15/privately-owned-forests-in-california/

    • September 25, 2020 4:48 pm

      And where proven a significant number were cause deliberately or by badly maintained electrical equipment. Anytime ANYONE offers a simple explanation like these rent seekers chasing their next years funding you should smell a rat because these are complex systems.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      September 26, 2020 8:03 am

      It’s almost as if there’s an election in November…

  10. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    September 25, 2020 4:16 pm

    Note the comment

    “…in California the number of autumn days with extreme wildfire conditions has doubled …”

    The truth lies in the change in vegetation from natural plants to introduced ones, and the increase in population. Especially grasses that have short growing season have replaced native grasses that produce a less fire-prone landscape.
    These issues have been discussed by Jim Steele whose writings are often cross-posted at WUWT, from other sources.
    http://www.landscapesandcycles.net/

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      September 26, 2020 7:58 am

      The truth is the number of “days” is meaningless. Big wildfires need runs of dry weather, and often 2-3 dry summers, not “days”. You need to build up ground fuel and you need living trees to be dried out too. None of that happens with ten days instead of eight in Autumn being dry.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      September 26, 2020 2:04 pm

      Note the use of clever but misleading language. (Which the Left have perfected)

      What are ‘extreme wildfire conditions’ when they’re at home? It’s a meaningless term. Note how shoe-horning ‘extreme’ in there deliberately amplifies the perceived threat without having to demonstrate any actual increase in ‘extreme’ wildfires!

      Extreme climate BSS, more like.

  11. jack broughton permalink
    September 25, 2020 4:21 pm

    A relevant article in Climate Change Weekly today gives the following info about the history of fires in California, plus a lot of other good historical perspective.

    “Wildfires have declined in number and severity since the early 1900s, data from the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) show. Using data on U.S. wildfires from as far back as 1926, NIFC reports the numbers of acres burned is far less now than it was throughout the early years of the 20th century, with the current acres burned running about 1/4th to 1/5th of the record values that occurred in the 1930s”

  12. Lez permalink
    September 25, 2020 5:00 pm

    This is a classic example of time frame selectivity. This is cleverly illustrated in Tony Heller’s video of about a year ago.

  13. September 25, 2020 5:18 pm

    Interchangeable?

    “Climate change is driving the scale . .”
    “global heating in boosting the conditions . .”
    “Global warming drives wildfires . .”

    And they never distinguish between anthropocentric and naturally occurring. Seems to me that the ‘consensus’ is that most of GW since about the 1970’s has a human footprint in it. So how much is that – perhaps 0.25C to 0.4C?

    Seems that most every study, by not distinguishing, between natural and anthropogenic warming, ends up being interpreted by the media and other alarmists that all GW/CC is man-made.

    The so-called skeptical community needs to keep the ‘A’ in GW and CC in all conversations and presentations.

    When someone asks me if I believe in GW or CC, my first response is, ‘Are you speaking of naturally occurring, or of the view that AGHG emissions may have added a bit of additional warming to the natural process.’

    I makes them think (sometimes).

  14. mwhite permalink
    September 25, 2020 6:20 pm

    “The US Forest Service used to have this graph on their web site, showing the sharp decline in US forest fires.”

    https://realclimatescience.com/2019/10/hiding-the-decline-in-forest-fires/

    Go back to the 1930s for the big ones

  15. john cooknell permalink
    September 25, 2020 8:44 pm

    This study is an example of why education may not be such a good thing. Another example was evident today.

    The teenagers in our village in UK haven’t been to school for six months.

    There is evidence their education must have suffered, for as as far as I can tell by looking at them huddle together, they have lost the ability to count past SIX !

  16. Phoenix44 permalink
    September 26, 2020 7:49 am

    This is childish stuff. Wildfires have complex causes, and just saying drier weather is more frequent tells you nothing whatsoever. You actually need to look at what medium-run weather makes wild fires more likely and whether that weather is more frequent. A dry Autumn after a wet summer doesn’t do it for example, but a couple of dry summers does.

    Once again we have something complex reduced to a single variable soley because “scientists” want that variable to be the cause.

  17. Steve Case permalink
    September 26, 2020 8:15 am

    Of course there’s always this:

  18. September 26, 2020 8:31 am

    Yet another analysis of the same wildfire report

    https://wp.me/pTN8Y-4xu

  19. A C Osborn permalink
    September 26, 2020 10:46 am

    Paul, I notice that Richard Bretts has not come onhere to challenge your findings and call you a liar.
    He has done so on the WUWT version instead.
    You may want to respond to his accusations over there and here.

  20. A C Osborn permalink
    September 26, 2020 10:49 am

    Sorry Richard Betts.

  21. A C Osborn permalink
    September 26, 2020 12:08 pm

    On re-reading his comments he doesn’t actually call you a liar, just a misleading cherry picker.

    • September 26, 2020 12:42 pm

      Ha! So picking 1979 as the start year is not cherry picking!!

  22. tom0mason permalink
    September 26, 2020 2:42 pm

    “We are used to seeing such flagrantly misleading use of data by the likes of Katharine Hayhoe. By following suit, the Met Office and University of East Anglia have sunk to new lows.”
    The Met Office and University of East Anglia offer this country nothing very worthy. Many other companies offer better at less cost.

    It is about time the Met Office were sold off, and the UK government stops paying the University of East Anglia with tax-payer money.

  23. September 26, 2020 3:31 pm

    ANY scientific study intended to pass muster must by default explain the origins of the data it uses and why there is data it does not use. IF it does not do this then every supposed peer who is reviewing the paper should be pointing this out. Secondly and partially covered by my first point it is beholding to the authors of research to acknowledge any data which does not conform to their conclusion and attempt to explain why it does not. Cheery picking is NOT part of the scientific method.

    I noticed that for all kinds of effects claimed by the climate theocracy to either prove or support their claims have varying start dates. The start date they choose is not data dependent but conclusion dependent. This is a willful abuse of the scientific method and the fact that such “research” finds its way into journals puts into question the intelligence and impartiality of those chosen to be peers.

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