With so much toxic wildfire smoke drifting across the Canadian border and upending life in the eastern United States, it raises a troubling question: Will there be more in the coming years, and if so, what can be done about it?

First, let’s take a step back. Global average temperatures have increased due to the uncontrolled burning of coal, oil and gas for 150 years. This created the conditions for more frequent and intense heat waves.

This extra heat in the atmosphere has created a greater likelihood of extreme, sometimes catastrophic weather around the world. While this does not mean the same extremes are always in the same places, certain places are more prone to certain disasters due to geography. Australia could experience more intense drought. Low-lying islands are expected to experience higher storm surges as sea levels rise.

In places that become hot and dry, fires may be more prevalent or more intense.

The unifying fact is that more heat is the new normal.

The best way to reduce risk higher temperatures in the future should limit the burning of fossil fuels, according to scientists. There are also many ways to adapt to hot weather and its dangers.

Eastern Canada, which erupted in extraordinary fires, is it is predicted to be wetter on average, especially in winter. According to Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, projections are less clear for summer, when soil moisture is important in creating fire conditions.

Eastern North America is expected to be much warmer and have many more days when the maximum temperature occurs above 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Thus, in a dry year, increased heat is likely to increase fire risk. This happened this year in part of Quebec. The snow soon melted. The spring was unusually dry. The trees turned to cinders.

The northeastern United States is projected to become wetter in the coming years. But as Ellen L. Mecray, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Eastern Region Regional Climate Services, said, “We’re also experiencing seasonal drought more often, in part because of rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and loss of soil moisture. .”

As for air pollution, she said wildfire smoke from the West, even dust from the Sahara, can travel around the world to the United States, bringing dangerous particles with it, according to recent reports. National Climate Assessmentpublished in 2018.

“From a human health perspective, we are concerned about the frequency and duration of such smoke events,” said Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, a University of Vermont climate scientist who led the northeast chapter of the report.

First, the heat. By 2035, average temperatures are expected to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from the pre-industrial era, according to the National Climate Assessment. This is larger and earlier than the global average.

Rising average temperatures increase the chances of more frequent and more intense heat waves. This is especially risky for people who work outside or cannot afford air conditioning.

Second, there is a risk of sea level rise for coastal areas in the Northeast. This means the risk of flooding affecting millions of people. Cities have long been warned to prepare by improving drainage, opening floodplains, planting shade trees and promoting better insulation in buildings.

In the southeastern United States, climate models indicate “increased fire risk and longer fire seasons.” Fires started by lightning (as opposed to people) are predicted to increase by at least 30 percent by 2060, the National Climate Assessment said.

In western states, the fire season is longer due to warmer temperatures, drought and earlier snowmelt. In the middle of the century, evaluation is overthe burned area there could at least double.

California could get a break this year due to a wet winter and spring. But not necessarily the Pacific Northwest. Dr. Williams, the climate scientist, said that “if there is a major heat wave in this area this summer, I expect the fuels to be dry enough to sustain large fires.”

Most of the fires in Quebec seem to have been he started with a flash. Elsewhere, such as in the western United States, human carelessness and mismanagement of aging power lines have led to catastrophic fires. Both are solvable problems.

Fire experts say that mechanical pruning of forests, as well as “prescribed burns” — the deliberate burning of undergrowth — can also limit the spread of fires. but with risks.

Some of the things that protect people from heat also help protect from wildfire smoke. Leaky, poorly insulated buildings are as dangerous as smoke on hot days.

The most effective way to prevent further increases in temperatures is to limit the burning of fossil fuels. They are the drivers of heat and its dangers.

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