number of wildfires over 1,000 acres in size in the region stretching
from Nebraska to California increased by a rate of seven fires a year
from 1984 to 2011, according to a new study
accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters
, a journal published by the American Geophysical Union.
The total area these fires burned increased at a rate of nearly
90,000 acres a year – an area the size of Las Vegas, according to the
study. Individually, the largest wildfires grew at a rate of 350 acres a
year, the new research says.
“We looked at the probability that increases of this magnitude could
be random, and in each case it was less than one percent,” said Philip Dennison
, an associate professor of geography at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and lead author of the paper.