Since 2000, wildfires in the high Rocky Mountains have burned nearly twice as much on average as compared with the last 2,000 years, according to a study of sediment samples by researchers at the University of Montana. "It isn't unexpected to have more fire as temperatures rise,” said researcher Kyra Wolf. “What's striking is that temperatures, and correspondingly fire, are now exceeding the range that these forests have coped with for thousands of years - largely as the result of human-caused climate change."
Class discussion: Does it surprise you that there are so many more wildfires as the climate has changed? How much can scientists learn from studying the layers of earth or ice that has accumulated over centuries and millennia? When was the last time there was so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? How warm was the Earth the last time there was so much of this greenhouse gas? How can climate change worsen drought in some regions while increasing flooding in other areas? How much do you expect the climate to change during your lifetime?