US wildfires are what global warming really looks like, scientists warn | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Scorching heat, high winds and bone-dry conditions are fueling catastrophic wildfires in the US west that offer a preview of the kind of disasters that human-caused climate change could bring, a trio of scientists said on Thursday. "What we're seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like," said Princeton University's Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author for the UN's climate science panel. "It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster … This provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future." In Colorado, wildfires that have raged for weeks have killed four people, displaced thousands and destroyed hundreds of homes. Because winter snowpack was lighter than usual and melted sooner, fire season started earlier in the US west, with wildfires out of control in Colorado, Montana and Utah. The high temperatures that are helping drive these fires are consistent with projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said this kind of extreme heat, with little cooling overnight, is one kind of damaging impact of global warming.
Monday, July 2, 2012
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