United States

Climate change: Wildfires in the Western U.S. are burning higher up the mountains

Fire trucks are shown lined up as a hillside burns during a brush fire in the Sepulveda Pass on the western edge of Los Angeles

Wildfires are moving further up the hillside. Image: REUTERS/Gene Blevins

Mojtaba Sadegh
Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Boise State University
John Abatzoglou
Associate Professor of Engineering, University of California, Merced
Mohammad Reza Alizadeh
Ph.D. Student in Engineering, McGill University
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a chart showing forest fires elevation
Forest fires advanced to higher elevations as the climate dried from 1984 to 2017. Every 200 meters equals 656 feet. Image: Mojtaba Sadegh, CC BY-ND
a picture of a wildfire
One of Colorado’s largest wildfires, 2020’s East Troublesome Fire, crossed the Continental Divide and was burning at elevations around 9,000 feet in October, when snow normally would have been falling. Image: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

a chart showing how mcuh wildfires burn each year
Prior to 1983, federal wildland fire agencies did not track official wildfire data using current reporting processes. Image: The Conversation/CC-BY-ND and National Interagency Coordination Center
a graph showing the upsoping of iwldfires in the us
On average, fires have spread 826 feet (252 meters) higher into the mountains in recent decades, exposing an additional 31,400 square miles (81,500 square kilometers) of forests to fire. Image: Mojtaba Sadegh, CC BY-ND
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