A University of California at Berkeley study couldn’t have been published at a more apt time.
The research concluded that climate change is likely to increase the frequency of wildfires in most of Europe and North America within the next 30 years. Sixteen different climate change models were considered in creating the fiery forecasts. The models didn’t all agree on every area that may see more flames in the next few decades. But one area the models largely agreed was likely to get roasted was the American west.
Their prediction is no surprise, as over the past few years the Wild West has been plagued by wildfires. Currently fires are burning in Colorado, News Mexico and seven other states, according to the AP. The fire in New Mexico has spread over 289,478 acres, the state’s largest ever. Last year, an Arizona blaze set the state record by scorching 538,049 acres. The area still bears the scars, though life is starting to return, reported AZ Central.
This century has seen massive wildfires around the world, the following list features some of the worst.
2000 – Cerro Grande Fire – New Mexico’s second biggest fire torched more than 400 buildings and damaged the Los Alamos National Laboratory, home of the atomic bomb.
2001 – Black Christmas Fire – Australians suffered a smokey summer when a bushfire that started on Christmas Eve burned for three weeks and destroyed approximately 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles).
2002 – California, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon – A decade ago, a total of 5,091 sq. km (1,965 sq. mi.) in several separate fires cost the lives of nine firefighters.
2003 – Portugal – Eighteen people died in what one person described to the BBC as the worst fire in living memory. Since then, wildfires have reoccurred every few years in the country, threatening its one national park.
2004 – Alaska – 5,283 square kilometers (2,039 square miles) were destroyed in one of the largest fires of the decade.
2005 – Spain and Chile – Both of these wildfires were started by negligent humans. In Spain, a barbecue got our of control and ended up costing 11 firefighters their lives. In Chile, the wildfire burned through Torres de Paine National Park after a Czech backpacker let his fire get out of control. The Czech government donated $1 million to restoration efforts.
2006 – Australia and California – Fires raged on opposite sides of the planet this year. In California, a relatively small fire burned 163 sq. km (63 sq. mi.) but killed five firefighters. Down under, another relatively small 130 sq. km (50 sq. mi.) fire killed two men and thousands of livestock.
2007 – Georgia – The largest wildfire in the state’s history incinerated 1,897 kilometers (732 sq. mi.). Florida also experienced its largest recorded fire this year.
2008 – California – Several fires across the state devastated 6,302 sq. km (2,433 sq. mi.). The fires threaten the city of Santa Barbara and caused unhealthy air quality in large parts of the state.
2009 – Canada – To the north, fires ganged up on the West Kelowna area in Canada when three fires started at nearly the same time in the region. Residents were evacuated, though four family’s homes were reduced to ashes.
2010 – Russian and Bolivia – Russian wildfires were linked to an atmospheric abnormality that also dumped heavy rains on Pakistan. A world away, the Bolivian Amazon suffered after fires set by farmers to clear the land spread to a forest dried by drought.
2011 – Arizona – Besides Arizona’ largest fire ever recorded, a massive fire in Alberta, Canada’s back country burned 7,076 sq. km (2,732 sq. mi), making it one of 21st century’s largest.