California struggles to control fire devastation wrought by global warming

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Climate change updates

The “unequivocal” conclusions about human-induced global warming in the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report are reinforced by the experience in California where residents have battled with destructive wildfires in recent years.

Citizens of the most populous state in North America are now struggling to contain the Dixie wildfire which has been burning since July 14.

To date Dixie has scorched 2,065 sq km of land, but more troubling is that it is only 30 per cent contained. Coupled with predicted dry thunderstorms and lightning strikes, the fire has the potential to spread still further.

This follows the largest wildfire in California’s history in 2020, when the August Complex fire burnt more than 4,100 sq km.

How large is the Dixie wildfire in California? The Dixie fire currently burning in north California is the state’s second-largest wildfire on record. To date it has burnt an area of 2,065 sq km. Here are maps showing how this area compares with the world’s major cities

The IPCC report laid out in stark terms the impact of global warming in fuelling increasingly intense and more frequent severe weather events.

Even on a best-case scenario of deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, temperatures are still expected to reach 1.5C above pre-industrial times within two decades.

The report also forecast that extreme temperature events were likely to happen four times more every 10 years than they would have in a climate without human influence.

With more extreme temperature events and drier conditions predicted in the future, Californians could expect these once-in-a-decade wildfires almost every other year, the scientists said.

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