This year has been a particularly severe year for wildfires in the United States. More than 9.1 million acres have burned through the year to the end of November. So far, with the year not finished yet, it’s the third-largest since records began in 1960, and will most likely break previous records by the end of December.
As you can see from the above NASA image showing the affected areas between January 31 and October 31 2012, the most intense fires have been located in the western United States. The large fires were fuelled by drought conditions in many areas, light winter snow pack, and longer-term impacts of ongoing climate change. It is predicted that wildfires will become bigger and more intense as climate change continues to bite in the years ahead.
In the image, the yellow and orange areas show larger, more intense wildfires. The areas in red show less intense, controlled fires, mostly started for clearing brush, agriculture, and ecosystem management.