Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scorched Earth: The past, present and future of human influences on wildfires

Date:
September 15, 2011
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Fires have continuously occurred on Earth for at least the last 400 million years. But since the 1970s, the frequency of wildfires has increased at least four-fold, and the total size of burn areas has increased at least six-fold in the western United States alone. Steadily rising, the US's bill for fighting wildfires now totals $1.5 billion per year.

Satellite studies indicate that more than 30 percent of the Earth is subjected to frequent fires.
Credit: NOAA

Fires have continuously occurred on Earth for at least the last 400 million years. But since the 1970s, the frequency of wildfires has increased at least four-fold, and the total size of burn areas has increased at least six-fold in the western United States alone. Steadily rising, the U.S.'s bill for fighting wildfires now totals $1.5 billion per year.

Related Articles


How much of the increases in the frequency and size of fires are due to human activities? No one knows for sure. But a paper in this week's issue of the Journal of Biogeography puts the role of fire in natural ecosystems into context and provides support for efforts to plan for future risks from wildfires.

Produced by an international team of researchers, the paper presents a new framework for considering wildfires based on Earth's pre-human fire history, ways that humans have historically used and managed fire and ways that they currently do so. "We need to look into the past to understand our current and future relationship with fire activity," says Jennifer Balch of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.

This research emphasizes the importance of understanding the relative influences of climate, human ignition sources and cultural practices in particular environments in order to design sustainable fire management practices that protect human health, property and ecosystems.

This research was partially funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David M. J. S. Bowman, Jennifer Balch, Paulo Artaxo, William J. Bond, Mark A. Cochrane, Carla M. D’Antonio, Ruth DeFries, Fay H. Johnston, Jon E. Keeley, Meg A. Krawchuk, Christian A. Kull, Michelle Mack, Max A. Moritz, Stephen Pyne, Christopher I. Roos, Andrew C. Scott, Navjot S. Sodhi, Thomas W. Swetnam. The human dimension of fire regimes on Earth. Journal of Biogeography, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02595.x

Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Scorched Earth: The past, present and future of human influences on wildfires." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915113756.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2011, September 15). Scorched Earth: The past, present and future of human influences on wildfires. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915113756.htm
National Science Foundation. "Scorched Earth: The past, present and future of human influences on wildfires." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915113756.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Time Lapse: Sculptures Created from 30 Tons of Snow

Time Lapse: Sculptures Created from 30 Tons of Snow

Rumble (Jan. 28, 2015) Students in North Finland use 30 tons of snow and one ton of ice to build a massive photography display and sculpture installation. Five days of work condensed into a one-minute time lapse! Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Ancient techniques of growing greens with fish and water are well ahead of Toronto bylaws. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Locust Plague Could Mean Famine For Millions

Madagascar Locust Plague Could Mean Famine For Millions

Newsy (Jan. 27, 2015) The Food and Agriculture Organization says millions could face famine in Madagascar without more funding to finish locust eradication efforts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Researchers Analyze the Evolving Human Relationship With Fire

Sep. 14, 2011 Humanity's relationship to fire -- including wildfires, burning of fossil fuels, controlled burns and human-caused fire -- is the focus of a report by an international team of ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins