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Climate change fuels fires

Fri, 4th February '11

Climate change will result in more, bigger fires in many parts of the world, including much of Africa, as the world heats up due to global warming.

This is one of the topics to be discussed at the Wildlfire 2011 conference, which will be held in Sun City, South Africa, from May 9 – 13. The conference is the hottest event on the international firefighting calendar. The theme this year will be “Living with Fire – Addressing Global Change through Integrated Fire Management.”

At the conference, Canadian researcher Mike Flannigan will give an extensive review of the research published on fires and climate change, and the predictions for different continents and countries.
Flannigan, of Natural Resources Canada, will present the paper, which he co-wrote with colleagues Lynn Bowman, Bill de Groot and Mike Wotton, and Meg Krawchuck of the University of California.

The general world trend is an increase in the area burnt and number of fires, but there will be a lot of variation between different places, with Germany and France among the relatively few countries where fire incidence is expected to decrease, the authors write in their abstract.

In temperate and northern hemisphere, fire seasons are lengthening, a trend that should continue into a warmer world.

Global Early Warning Systems that accurately predict where and when fires begin could help us adapt, the authors say. And most fires are lit by people. More research is needed on the extent to which government policy, and human behaviour, impact on fires.

The conference is organised by AfriFireNet, the sub-Saharan wildland fire network, and funded by the South African government. It has the backing of the United Nations’ International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Food and Agricultural Organisation.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of Wildfire 2011
For more information please call:
Evelyn John Holtzhausen, on +27-(0) 82 658 6007
E-mail: evelyn@hwb.co.za