Climate change as potential cause of Yosemite wildfire

Via Flickr

Grace Smith | July 11, 2022

Yosemite National Park in California is experiencing a wildfire that began to grow over the weekend and had grown 2.5 square miles since Sunday morning, with zero containment. The wildfire in the park, which is affecting century-old sequoia trees, may be caused by climate change.

The fire swept through the Mariposa Grove, the largest grove in the park, which contains some of the tallest and oldest sequoia trees. Over 5,000 sequoias were threatened during the fire, but Yosemite fire information spokesperson Nancy Phillipe told the New York Times that there is no estimate on damage as of Sunday. 

Although the case of the fire is under investigation, experts say wildfires, in general, are increasing in size and impact because of climate change. Through research on past Sierra Nevada wildfires from 2001 to 2020, projections show the number of fires in the area could increase 20 percent by 2040 and the area of burning could increase 25 percent. 

According to the National Park Service, from 2015 to 2021, more than 85 percent of sequoia groves burned in wildfires. In the previous century, that percentage was 25 percent. The trees, which were once impenetrable to flames, are becoming more vulnerable to climate change-induced violent and intense fires.

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