Forest Service scientists predict wildfires will become more severe as a half-century-long dry spell persists, peaking with a fire of unprecedented size in the next 30 years.
The agencyÂ´s computer models say the blaze anticipated around 2035 could destroy some 21 billion metric tons of trees and plants.
A USDA undersecretary in charge of the Forest Service told a congressional panel in Washington today that the models are used to monitor short-term and long-term weather patterns. They also predict the growth of vegetation in the national forests.
Undersecretary Mark Rey says the country is in the midst of a dry cycle after several decades of wetter-than-normal conditions through the 1970s. The dry cycle is expected to last for several more decades.
Rey says wildfires are expected to be more severe in the coming decades. He says due primarily to a combination of aggressive firefighting efforts that have kept forests from burning naturally… and a predicted a warming trend that spurs growth of vegetation.