Dakota Midday: Study Shows Changing Climate Creates Longer Forest Fire Seasons

Jul 27, 2015

Over a 35 year period, the length of forest fire seasons worldwide increased by nearly nineteen percent. That’s according to a study co-authored by South Dakota State University professor and wildfire expert Mark Cochrane. He was part of a team that researched weather data from 1979 to 2013 to determine the impact changing climate has had on forest ecosystems.

South Dakota State University professor Mark Cochrane surveys damage from the 2007 Antelope Complex Fire in Plumas National Forest in northern California.
Credit SDSU

The researchers combined fire danger indexes from the United States, Canada and Australia with three global climate databases to create what Cochrane calls an ensemble model. They looked at the length of time and areas where conditions were conducive to fires. Cochrane is a senior scientist at the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence. He’s also been researching what impact major droughts have had on the Amazon rain forest.

Mark Cochrane joined Dakota Midday and discussed the study.