MinnPost is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. You can submit claims you think need checking here. Sign up for our newsletter for more stories straight to your inbox.
Climate change has affected wildfire patterns by increasing wildfires’ frequency, severity and the areas of land they burn, and lengthening the wildfire season, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Wildfires have tripled in frequency and quadrupled in size across the U.S. in the 2000s compared to the previous two decades, based on a 2022 analysis of more than 28,000 fires in the country. Factors that intensify fires, including rising temperatures, drought and drier soil, and earlier seasonal melting of snow, are linked to changes in the climate. Climate change, primarily caused by burning fossil fuels, creates hot dry weather conditions raising the risk of wildfires.
Another 2022 report from the United Nations Environment Programme states that wildfires globally are “burning longer and hotter,” and flaring up in environments they don’t usually occur in, such as “in drying peatlands and on thawing permafrost.”
This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
- Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change Indicators: Wildfires
- Science U.S. fires became larger, more frequent, and more widespread in the 2000s
- Climate Central Burning Hot: 50 Years of Fire Weather Across the United States
- United Nations Environment Programme: Spreading like Wildfire: The Rising Threat of Extraordinary Landscape Fires (Page 6)
Jayne Williamson-Lee is a freelance science journalist who is part of MinnPost’s fact briefs team.