Southern California to Experience Twice as Many Large Fire Days by 2100

May 26, 2022
A photo of a forest fire with flames getting taller than the tree line.

Recently published research, funded by the SWCASC and published in Communications Earth & Environment, projects that there will be more large fire days per year in southern California over the next 50 to 100 years. The authors used both climate and fire modeling to determine fire risk based on moderate to high greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Conditions like decreased fuel moisture and increased vapor pressure deficit (VPD), which drive large fires, will be amplified under future climate change. The large fire season will become longer, beginning earlier in the spring and continuing later into the fall. The results indicate that southern California will have almost twice as many large fire days by 2100, based on a higher emission scenario. The authors suggest that this modeling approach and their results may be useful in developing scenarios around the impacts of climate change on wildfires. The results could also be useful for other Mediterranean climate regions and for where predictive modeling of fires at a fine spatial scale is required.