Tag Archives: Forest Fires

Are we having more forest fires in the US?

I’m not sure about the NUMBER of fires. That might be hard to count. If five small fires emerge and are put out, there are five fires. If five fires emerge, join into one configuration, and wipe out a handful of mountain villages in the Rockies, that’s one fire. It might be better to look at acreage burned per year.

My friend John Abraham has used the data supplied by National Interagency Fire Center to make a graph of acreage burned per year since 1960. The graph is a 10-year running mean of millions of acres burned in the US.

Here is the graph:

Acreage Burned in US Forest Fires since 1960
The annual rate of acreage burned in forest fires in the US seems to be increasing, presumably related to global warming.

Looks like a bit of an upswing.

For comparison, here is a section of a graph from this source showing temperatures (blue line) in the US Lower 48 for the roughly equivalent time period:

US temperature increase since 1960
Increasing temperatures in the contiguous (lower 48) US states.

Fire Photo Credit: T i q s © via Compfight cc