Wildfires, Once Rare In Great Plains, More Than Triple In 30 Years

"The grasslands of U.S. Great Plains have seen one of the sharpest increases in large and dangerous wildfires in the past three decades, with their numbers more than tripling between 1985 and 2014, according to new research.

The new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that the average number of large Great Plains wildfires each year grew from about 33 to 117 over that time period, even as the area of land burned in these wildfires increased by 400 percent.

'This is undocumented and unexpected for this region,' said Victoria Donovan, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. 'Most studies do document these shifts in large wildfires in forested areas, and this is one of the first that documents a shift, at this scale, in an area characterized as a grassland.'"

Chris Mooney reports for the Washington Post June 16, 2017.

Source: Washington Post, 06/19/2017