Chile faces heightened risk of deadly wildfires due to climate change, says a report. Recent fires killed 133, worst since 2010 earthquake. High temperatures and winds fueled rapid spread near Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

The Chile wildfire was likely ignited by human activities, reports suggest. However, scientists have pointed out that climate change significantly intensifies these fires by creating hotter, drier conditions that make vegetation more flammable. Furthermore, climate change is making heatwaves and droughts, which contribute to wildfire risks, more frequent and severe in South America.

The report, conducted by the World Weather Attribution, examined key factors like temperature, wind speed, and moisture using the Hot Dry Windy Index (HDWI). While the recent spike in wildfires isn’t directly attributed to global warming or El Nino, experts warn that future risks will escalate with rising temperatures.

Researchers emphasize the looming threat of more frequent and intense wildfires as temperatures continue to climb. Under the current 1.2°C warming scenario, similar HDWI conditions are projected once every 30 years. If temperatures rise by 2°C, areas like Vina del Mar and Valparaiso will face even greater fire risks.

According to UN projections, temperatures could soar up to 2.9°C this century based on existing commitments. Urban expansion and changes in land use exacerbate these risks. The expansion of pine and eucalyptus plantations erodes natural firebreaks, while urban development encroaches on forested areas.

Experts are calling for comprehensive strategies that include not just firefighting capabilities but also forest management practices and policies aimed at mitigating climate change.

Mauricio Santos from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre stresses the important role of proper urban planning and land management practices in exacerbating deadly wildfires due to climate change. He calls for urgent action, including improved warning systems, better evacuation plans, and implementation of fire-resistant measures.

Image Source: The Mail & Guardian