Dr. Chad Hanson and his colleagues conducted an ambitious scientific study on wildfire behavior and trends — one of the largest ever to analyze the factors that drive such fires. The study involved three decades of data and tens of millions of acres of forest fires across the American West.
What they found will not surprise most people who have an understanding of climate change. Weather and climate influence fire behavior much more than other factors. Alarmingly, in forests where trees had been removed by logging, fires burned hotter and faster. That’s because removing trees reduces shade; creates hotter, drier and windier conditions; and causes highly combustible invasive grasses to spread.