THE STUDY APRIL 9, 2012
It was a hot one out there—over and over again, for 31 days: Last month was officially the hottest March in U.S. history. Not since officials started recording temperatures in 1895 have March temperatures been so high. What are the effects of these high temperatures so early in the year?
According to one 2006 study, a major result of “warming and earlier spring” is increased wildfires. The study’s authors note in the mid-1980s, U.S. wildfires suddenly became much more frequent and started lasting much longer (with the average length jumping from one week to five weeks). Attributing that increase to rising temperatures, the authors warn that “the projected regional warming and consequent increase in wildfire activity in the western United States is likely to magnify the threats to human communities and ecosystems, and substantially increase the management challenges in restoring forests and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” And as if that weren’t enough, last month’s warm temperatures are already being blamed for other weather-related disasters, including an unusually-high number of tornadoes that caused 40 deaths and over a billion dollars in damage.