WILDFIRES in SAVANNAH
- February 19, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
WILDFIRES in SAVANNAH
Context- Wildfires are predicted to worsen in the coming years and decades, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned in its annual Frontiers report released February 17, 2022.
- Also called bush or vegetation fire or forest fire, it can be described as any uncontrolled and non-prescribed combustion or burning of plants in a natural setting such as a forest, grassland, brush land or tundra, which consumes the natural fuels and spreads based on environmental conditions (e.g., wind, topography).
- Wildfires are a natural phenomenon, but are becoming more dangerous and affecting larger areas. The UN report has attributed this to climate change and human activities.
- The trends towards more dangerous fire-weather conditions are increasing due to rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
- Wildfires seldom spread to humid tropical forests in the past. But these forests are now more vulnerable due to deforestation and forest fragmentation.
- Extreme weather events such as hotter temperatures and more droughts lead to longer fire seasons and increase the likelihood of fire weather condition.
Wildfires in Savannah:
- Wildfires have also become more common in the Savannah ecosystem.
- Savannah or the mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem accounted for 77 per cent of the total 13 million individual fires (lasting for 4-5 days) which occurred globally between 2003 and 2016. This is equivalent to an area around size of the entire European Union.
- This has affected over one-fourth of species in the Savannah ecosystem.
- In 2021 too, Africa was the most affected region due to wildfires, the UNEP report said.
Lightning and pollution:
- Rising forest fires is leading to more frequent incidences of lightning creating a vicious cycle.
- Lightning ignition is the predominant driver of massive wildfires in the boreal forests of North America and northern Siberia.
- Fire-induced thunderstorms are a new danger posed by rising wildfires.
- In recent decades, such thunderstorms have been reported very frequently in Australia, Europe and North America. These thunderstorms contribute to more dangerous conditions for fires on the ground.
- Lightning from these storms will also lead to additional blazes in far-away locations.
- Wildfires are also responsible for air pollution.
Recommendations by UNEP: The report also recommended the following to improve monitoring and management of wildfires:
- Appreciating and adopting indigenous fire management techniques
- Focus on long-range weather forecasting
- Focus on remote-sensing capabilities such as satellites, ground-based radar, lightning detection as well as data handling