Climate change is forecast to burn Yosemite National Park violently in coming years. A new study in the International Journal of Wildland Fire finds the dwindling spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will exponentially increase the number of lightning-ignited fires.
The increase has two causes:
- Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appear to be leading to more lightning strikes.
- Decreasing winter snowpack—conservative climate models predict a 17-percent fall by 2050—will allow more lightning strikes to ignite fires in the park.
"People already expect more ignitions from hotter summers. But this research suggests that declines in snowpack will have an additional effect."
In other words, a warming climate is setting up a nasty positive feedback loop, making a bad situation worse.
Come on, world leaders, lead already.