Lightning Strikes Increase with Climate Change

Every year, lightning caused fires burn an average of over 250,000 acres in the Southern US. Climate Scientists studying atmospheric chemistry recently released a study in Science looking at how increasing temperatures with global climate change will affect the frequency of cloud-to-ground lightning. Hotter temperatures generally lead to increased thunderstorm activity. Results indicate a 50% increase in cloud to ground lightning strikes by 2100.

“All Global Climate Models (GCMs) in our ensemble predict annual mean lightning-strike frequency in the United States to increase, with a mean increase of 12% per °C. The standard deviation of the ensemble’s predictions is 5% per °C; therefore, we can conclude that the rate of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes over the US is likely to increase as a function of global mean temperature at a rate of 12 ± 5% per °C. Overall, the GCMs predict a ∼50% increase in the rate of lightning strikes in the US over the 21st century.”

Currently, the Southern Appalachian region receives 6 to 9 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per square mile every year (according to the National Lightning Detection Network). By 2100, that number is expected to increase to 9 to 13.5 lightning strikes per square mile every year.

from the National Lightning Detection Network

from the National Lightning Detection Network

Even though 90% of wildfires are human caused, this increase in lightning frequency will inevitably lead to a larger area of land burned in wildfires, highlighting the importance of fuel reducing mitigation methods like controlled burning.

View the article here: Projected increase in lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming

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Thought Provoking Article from the New York Times

You won’t hear it on your summer hike above the bird song and the soft applause of aspen leaves, but there’s a heresy echoing through America’s woods and wild places. It’s a debate about how we should think about, and treat, our wilderness in the 21st century, one with real implications for the nearly 110 million acres of wild lands that we’ve set aside across the United States.

Fifty years ago this September, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which created a national system of wilderness areas. Wilderness has been called the “hard green line” for the act’s uncompromising language: Man will leave these places alone. As the law’s drafter and spiritual father, Howard Zahniser, put it, “we should be guardians, not gardeners.”

At 50, however, the Wilderness Act faces a midlife crisis.

We now know that, thanks to climate change, we’ve left no place unmolested and inadvertently put our fingerprints on even the most unpeopled corners of the planet. This reality has pushed respected scientists to advocate what many wilderness partisans past and present would consider……………..

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/the-wilderness-act-is-facing-a-midlife-crisis.html?_r=1