Researchers hosted a press conference call on Wednesday to discuss the role of climate change in the rise of dangerous forest fires in Alaska.
Leading the call were Dr. Scott Rupp, Professor of Forestry at the University of Alaska and Principal Investigator for the Department of Interior's Alaska Climate Science Center, and Ryan Kelly, a University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate who is studying the long-term drivers and consequences of boreal forest burning in Alaska. The two researchers recently authored a study on the impact of climate change on forest fires in Alaska.
"In our study area, there has been more wildfire in recent decades than at any time in the past 10,000 years," said Kelly, the study's lead author.
Wildfires across the country have let thousands without homes and run up more than $1 billion in damages over just the last year. There can be no doubt the increased frequency and severity of forest fires in Alaska forecasted by researchers will have a devastating impact on Alaska's economy and the livelihood of its people.