High temperatures and low humidity are two essential factors behind the rise in fire risk and activity, affecting fire behavior from its ignition to its spread. Even before a fire starts they set the stage, said Jim Randerson, an Earth system scientist at the University of California, Irvine who studies fires both in the field and with satellite data.
He and his colleagues studied the abundance of lightning strikes in the 2015 Alaskan fire season that burned a record 5.1 million acres. Lightning strikes are the main natural cause of fires. The researchers found an unusually high number of lightning strikes occurred, generated by the warmer temperatures that cause the atmosphere to create more convective systems — thunderstorms — which ultimately contributed to more burned area that year.
Video Credit: NASA