Climate change, with an increase in global temperatures, will increase the devastating potential of forest fires in Mediterranean Europe, according to a study that has quantified that if global warming rises three degrees Celsius, forest fires would double in Spain.
The research, published today by the magazine 'Nature Communications', has been directed by the professor of the Department of Applied Physics of the University of Barcelona (UB) Marco Turco, which has had the collaboration of the Universities of Murcia and Cantabria, Geosciences and Geosciences Institute (IGG), the National Research Council (CNR) in Italy and the predictive company Intelligent Data Solutions (Santander).
Turco, an Italian physicist who has been working for the UB for two years, explained to Efe that the novelty that his work brings to the field of forest fire forecasts is that for the first time he has applied an empirical method in the study of the relationship of the climate with forest fires combined with the climate change scenarios established in the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, established the need to limit the increase of the global average temperature of the planet below 2 degrees and to make an effort that this increase does not exceed 1.5º C.
According to Turco, "until now there were studies on the forecast of forest fires in a specific future until 2070-2100, but not a quantification considering the thresholds of global warming to know what the impacts of global warming can be if we pass the limit of 2 degrees (of the Agreement) of Paris ".
Thus, the work has established that if global warming climbs 1.5 ° C on average, fires will skyrocket 40%, and increase 100% if the average temperature grows 3 ° C, which could happen at the end of this century.
"Global warming is indisputable, every summer many temperature records are surpassed, and this summer the heat wave has affected the center and north of Europe and not so much the European Mediterranean," said Turco.
The professor of Physics recalled that during 2017 and 2018 there have been major forest fires in Greece, Portugal and Sweden, even with many fatalities and that these fires have been related to droughts and intense heat waves.
But the scientist points out that they can not be fixed only in what happens in specific years, but in the climate series, although for the Mediterranean area there are only reliable data on forest fires since 1985.
"Spain is the country in the world that has more reliable data on forest fires, since 1974," Turkish specified.
Asked about why fires in Spain have fallen in recent years despite the increase in temperature, Turco explained that another key factor in the fires is "the human factor" and that since the great fires of the 80s in Spain there has been a technological improvement and better management of forests.