Impacts of Climate Change on the Intermountain West, Hearing Before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, Second Session to Examine the Current and Future Impacts of Climate Change on the Intermountain West, Focusing on Drought, Wildfire Frequency and Severity, and Ecosystems, Santa Fe, NM, August 17, 2012   [open pdf - 266KB]

From the opening statement of Jeff Bingaman: "Wildfires have always been part of life in this region. But this year's fires have been exceptional in their intensity. The work of the Nation's top scientists tells us that some of the conditions contributing to the severity of this year's fire season, including drought, accompanied by above average temperatures, are now more commonly--are common because of human induced climate change. The National Research Council has examined historical wildfire data as part of its America's Climate Choices report. They found that quote, 'Over the past 30 years large and long duration forest fires in the American West have increased fourfold. The length of the fire season has expanded by two and a half months. The size of wildfires has increased several fold.' The study further attributed the increase of wildfire activity to climate change stating that climate change has likely contributed to a significant increase in big forest fires in the West. They did a separate report, the same National Research Council, in 2011 and projected an increase in median annual area burn in parts of New Mexico and in the Sierras of over 300 percent for a global increase in temperature of just one degree Celsius. That level of warming is all but certain to be reached and exceeded in coming years. The intent of this hearing is to receive testimony that puts these recent fires into a greater historical context to unravel the factors that contributed to their severity and to understand how climate change has and is expected to continue to change the landscape and ecosystems of the Intermountain West." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Craig D. Allen, Jeff Bingaman, Walter Dasheno, William deBuys, Denise D. Fort, Nathan McDowell, and Kelly T. Redmond.

Report Number:
S. Hrg. 112-592; Senate Hearing 112-592
Public Domain
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