Fires seem like the new normal in California weather with wildfires having already burned more than one million acres in the Golden State. Climate change is happening, and the California fires are symptomatic proof. Four factors in particular show how California’s wildfires have a significant link to the effects of climate change.

Drier Conditions

Climate change is contributing to drier air and plants, both of which fuel wildfires. This includes low-humidity winds coming from the Pacific Ocean, which dry vegetation and distribute more oxygen, ultimately causing wildfires to spread even faster.

Earlier Snowmelt in the Spring

Higher temperatures in the spring and summer mean less snowmelt. Without enough snowfall in the winter, subsequent seasons are drier, which increases the occurrence of forest fires. What’s worse is that fires from previous seasons cause snowmelt to occur earlier, which causes more fires.

Increasing Temperatures

Temperatures on the surface of the earth and in the ocean are getting hotter. In California alone, day temperatures have increased by 2.5 degrees since the early 1970s. There is a clear correlation between human-made climate change and the California wildfires. Warming makes the atmosphere arider, which dries the vegetation, thus driving forest fires. Add to that declining snowpack, reducing ground moisture. This effect creates drier land and a dehydrated atmosphere, which spark fires. This trend suggests fires might not plague California alone. Since the early 1900s, the Southwest United States has seen daily average temperatures rise by 1.6 degrees.

Bark Beetle Outbreaks

In addition to drought, insects can kill off massive acres of trees. One of these insects is the bark Mountain Pine Beetle, which is about the size of a grain of rice. The bark of the trees is a favorite food for these pests. When they gather to eat the bark, they release pheromones that attract other insects. When the beetles reproduce, they create enough insects to strip the trees of crucial nutrients; this leaves the trees defenseless. Ultimately, more dead trees mean more wildfires.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, the California wildfires are expanding. As the Northern Hemisphere gets warmer, conditions such as increasing heat, diminished moisture, and pest infestations will continue to plague California, meaning the wildfires are likely to continue happening.