California Fires Could Be The 'New Abnormal' If Climate Change Continues
A leading climate scientist says a worrying pattern helped light the match for the devastating California fires.
The fires have devastated the state, killing 31 people so far.
It's not looking likely the blaze will calm any time soon.
One of the reasons for the scale of destruction being visited on the state is a collection of environmental triggers brought about by climate change, according to Doctor Daniel Swain of UCLA.
California's rainy season arrived later than usual, said Dr Swain, a climate scientist.
This has led to a 20-30 percent drop below the autumn average for precipitation, perfect conditions for the massive blaze to grow.
Rainfall has become far more concentrated in the winter months in California, between December and February, he said in a Twitter thread over the weekend.
This means vegetation remains dryer for longer, increasing the risk of wildfires such as the 'Cali fires'. This forms part of a concerning downward rainfall trend since the 1980's, he said.
The response to the fires has been enormous, with over 3,000 firefighters deployed into the area, as well as 19 helicopters and three DC-10 tanker planes.
More than 6,000 homes have already destroyed.
But not everyone sees climate change as the culprit.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has moved away from climate change initiatives such as the 2015 Paris agreement, blamed state's forest management for the fires.
According to Dr. Swain however, the blame for the fires can't be laid at the door of one single factor.
"All disasters are compound events with many contributing factors. But sometimes, climate can play a starring role," he said.
This is a sentiment echoed by the governor of California, Jerry Brown.
He said due to rising temperatures and dryness similar fires could affect the state for many years to come.
“This is not the new normal, this is the new abnormal, and this new abnormal will continue, certainly in the next 10 to 15 to 20 years,” he said.