NASA: Wildfires caused by lightning on the rise

By Spectrum News ,
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 1:55 PM EDT

A new NASA study shows that lightning storms are behind massive wildfires in North America.

  • Number of wildfires caused by lightning on the rise
  • Increased 2 to 5 percent a year
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Researchers examined the cause of a recent increase of fires in Northern Canada and Alaska.

The team found increases of between two and five percent a year in the number of lightning-ignited fires since 1975.

With climate warming, NASA says these fires are likely to increase.

Study co-author Brendan Rogers at Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, said these trends are likely to continue. “We expect an increasing number of thunderstorms, and hence fires, across the high latitudes in the coming decades as a result of climate change.” 

They may keep moving farther north and could quickly alter northern landscapes.

Researchers say the study will help understand and predict the complex relationship between climate and fire.