Report Says Climate Change Will Lead to More Fires in Arizona

Jul 12, 2016

A research group projects Arizona will have the largest increase among western states in the number of days per year with a high wildfire risk. The finding is part of a report that says climate change will lead to bigger and more frequent wildfires across the region. Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports. 

The Wallow Fire in 2011 burned more than 500,000 acres and destroyed 72 structures in eastern Arizona.
Credit USFS

The report by Climate Central predicts by 2050 Arizona will have an average of 115 days a year with a high wildfire risk. The current average is about 80. The study used 45 years of wildfire data from the U.S. Forest Service and various atmospheric models. It found climate change is causing less snow pack, drier forest fuels and hotter days in the west.

In addition, the data showed since the 1970’s, Arizona had one of the biggest increases in average spring and summer temperatures.

A separate report by Climate Central gave Arizona a "D-" for preparedness in facing the increasing wildfire threat.