Global climate teleconnections and rain causing fires

Climatic patterns that can shape weather over thousands of kilometres can impact synchronising droughts and fuelling fires worldwide. According to Spanish scientists, these patterns, known as climate teleconnections, usually occur as repeated phases that affect wind, temperature and precipitation across multiple continents. Places where droughts occur simultaneously or over several months, include the western and mid-western United States, the Amazon, the eastern slopes of the Andes, South Africa, the Arabian deserts, southern Europe and Scandinavia. However, one of the best-known climate teleconnections is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation or ENSO. Experts say their research can help in weather forecasting and in cooperating to combat droughts and fires.

In California, it is not only droughts that contribute to fires. Heavy rains also play a part – adequate fuel is waiting to germinate in the soggy soils that now cover California. Grasses and other fast-growing vegetation, stimulated by torrential downpours, will soon turn to firewood as it warms up. Thunderstorms and strong winds also increase fire risk – damaging fire roads, uprooting trees and breaking branches, and creating potential fire outbreaks in high-risk areas. Such weather also prevents the use of controlled fires to burn excess fuel and build a healthier, more resilient forest environment.

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