Lightning-Caused Fires on the Rise in the World’s Largest Forest
New NASA study shows how lightning is driving fire and pushing it north, with a likely link to climate change.
As fire season reaches for its annual summer turning point, the role lightning plays as the culprit in setting fires shows a worrisome trend. That’s not good news for the boreal forest, the world’s largest forest habitat, where virtually all wildfires are ignited by lightning.
Since 1975, the number of fires ignited by lightning has increased between two and five percent, driven by an increase in volatile thunderstorm weather, according to a new NASA study published Monday in Nature Climate Change. In two of the last three years, immense fires in Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories provided a good case study, says Sander Veraverbeke, the study’s lead author and an Earth scientist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Between 1975 and 2015,