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Recent Wildfire Research Gets Press Coverage

Recently published research by scientists at PCIC and Environment Climate Change Canada (ECCC) on British Columbia's 2017 wildfire season has been featured on CBC News and in the Times Colonist. Though immediately surpassed by the 2018 wildfire season, 2017 saw wildfires burn a record 12,000 square kilometres in BC, an area a little larger than a third of Vancouver Island. Made up of more than 1300 individual fires, the wildfires forced thousands from their homes, cost the province more than half a billion dollars and resulted in the longest state of emergency in the province's history, at ten weeks. In order to better understand the potential human influence on these wildfires, the researchers used an event attribution method and output from regional climate models to determine the effect of anthropogenic climate change on the maximum temperatures in the region, the area burned and aspects of the fires' behaviour as characterized by a set of wildfire indices developed by Natural Resources Canada that characterize wildfire risk. The researchers found that anthropogenic climate change had a large influence on the 2017 wildfires, contributing 95% to the probability of extremely warm temperatures, increasing the expected area burned by a factor of seven-to-eleven times and making high values of fire weather indices indicating elevated fire risk two-to-four times more likely than would have been expected in an earlier period with weaker human climate influences.

The CBC News article can be found, here.

The Times Colonist article can be found, here.

The original paper can be found in an early online view from Earth's Future.

The press release from Environment and Climate Change Canada can be found, here.