More than 5.5 million acres have burned on state and federal lands in California since the start of 2020. That’s more than the previous six years combined.
While the reasons for this are complicated-including population growth and forest management-scientists say climate change is certainly playing a big role.
“The trend is a real trend,” said Michael Goss, a postdoctoral scholar in earth systems at Stanford University.
“We can say pretty confidently that climate changes is impacting these variables,” Goss continued.
In a recent study, Goss and other researchers measured what is known as the fire weather index in fall seasons since the late 1970s, and said the index has jumped by about 20% over the past 40 years. The fire weather index is an indicator that takes into account factors like temperature and precipitation.