According to a new UN report, extreme wildfires will become more often, increasing by about 50% by the end of the century.
According to the paper, there is an increased chance of wildfires in the Arctic and other formerly unaffected areas.
Extreme fires, according to scientists, are rare conflagrations that occur once every hundred years or so.
According to researchers, the surge will be fueled by rising temperatures and changes in how we use land.
According to the new report, financial resources should be redirected from firefighting to fire prevention.
Large fires that burn for weeks, according to UN Environment Programme (UNEP) scientists, are already becoming hotter and burning longer in many places of the world where wildfires have always happened.
However, they are now erupting in far-flung northern places, drying peatlands, and thawing permafrost.
According to the current study, worldwide intense fires would grow by up to 14 percent by 2030, compared to the number reported from 2010 to 2020. By 2050, the rise might be 30%, and by the end of the century, it could be 50%.
“The research was based on the notion of a catastrophic fire as one that occurs once in 100 years, so it’s a very low frequency fire event,” said Dr Andrew Sullivan of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
“Based on a global review of fire frequency, the potential for that type of fire would grow by a factor of 1.3 to 1.5 times.”
In both a low and high carbon emissions scenario, the findings were similar.
Extreme conflagrations are defined in the study as flames that are unique or remarkable, however this definition varies greatly depending on where you live.
“Imagine a peat fire in the Arctic spreading at a rate of centimetres per hour. It’s not necessarily a raging inferno, but it’s unusual and growing across vast swaths of land since no one is there to put out the fire”, Dr. Sullivan stated.
“A fire like this in the peatlands is extreme, but it’s not what you’d expect an intense fire to be like if you lived in California.”
Even though the study only gives forecasts for catastrophic events, the scientists believe that as land use changes and populations grow, fewer wildfire incidents will occur. The additional burning will increase the quantity of carbon discharged into the atmosphere, which might have severe ramifications for climate change.
However, the frequency shift will be dependent on a number of local conditions. Because climate change is having such a significant impact on the Arctic, more fires are likely to occur.
However, because a growing population is clearing more forest areas for farmland in Africa, where around two-thirds of the world’s wildfires presently occur, there are expected to be fewer flames in the next decades.
“The number of fires in Africa is reducing due to changes in land use and agricultural intensification,” stated Dr. Glynis Humphrey of the University of Cape Town.
“Because of the reduced fuel load, our percentage of area burned is actually dropping, and our fires are growing smaller and smaller.”
The authors are urging governments to rethink how they spend money on major fires.
According to the report, planning and prevention currently receives less than 1% of financing, while firefighting consumes half of the available resources.