The fire that burned a huge part of the Amazon has caught the attention of people all over the world. Although the investigation of what started the fire and what caused it to spread so fast is still going on, there are two terms that seem to best describe what made the Amazon fire get worse -- hot and dry.
In a matter of seconds, the dry and hot conditions of the atmosphere has set off an inferno that consumed the old and thick vegetation of everything in its path. The speed at which it spreads as well as the intensity of the fires is determined by these two factors present in the atmosphere.
Since the 1880s, the world's temperature has warmed by 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit and the last five years have been recorded as the warmest. Since the 1980s, the wildfire season has lengthened significantly and in some places like in California, the risk for wildfire seem to be there all year round. Whether the fires were started by human activities or by nature, these fires result to burned areas and smoke emissions that have become observable from the International Space Station.
"Technology has indeed improved our human capacity to keep track of fire and how big it has gotten. More importantly, we have observed how consistent these fires are with the warming of certain areas in the world like in Canada, Western part of the US, as well as the areas at the Northern Hemisphere where fuel is known to be abundant," said Doug Morton, Biospheric Sciences Laboratory chief. "Because of the warming of the Earth, the drying climate has increased the risk of wildfires. It has been evident in the increase in burning."
Low humidity and high temperatures -- these are the two essential factors that increase the risk of fire activities from its ignition down to its spread. The warming of the world may also be the reason why the fires persist and could last for days. What makes it even worse may be the higher temperatures during the night.
"Warmer temperatures at night allow the fires to burn more intensely through the night. Such conditions have also weakened the possibility of extinguishing the fire within just a day," Morton said.
As the climate continues to warm, the frequency of extreme events should also be welcomed. It is critical that people understand and monitor that data collected from satellites to be able to successfully manage the world as it warms up.