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Study finds global warming increases wildfires

A new study finds global warming is tied to the growing number of in wildfires in the Western United States. The La Jolla-based Scripps Institute of Oceanography conducted the study. KPBS reporter Beth Ford Roth has more.

The study finds a correlation between a four-fold increase in the number of wildfires since 1987, and a rise in temperature in the Western United States during that time.

Study co-author Daniel Cayan says the warmer temperatures bring about spring and melt the snowpack much earlier.

Cayan: "That's going to consume the available moisture in the soil and also in fuels faster, and consequently we think that leads to an increase in wildfire activity that's been noted since the 1980's."

The boost in wildfires had previously been attributed to fire suppression policies that increased the amount of fuel in forests that help wildfires spread. Beth Ford Roth, KPBS news.

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