Tackling heightened risk of forest fires examined in UN-backed meeting

Tackling heightened risk of forest fires examined in UN-backed meeting

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization
Dozens of meteorologists, fire scientists and others from 25 countries have gathered at a United Nations-backed meeting in Canada to examine how to address the intensified threat of forest fires posed by climate change.

Participants at the three-day meeting, which began today in Edmonton, will focus on boosting current weather systems, including indices of fire danger and smoke forecasting and monitoring.

“Our target is to produce operational guidelines for fire weather agrometeorolgy by 2009,” said Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which helped to organize the event.

The development of forest fires depends largely on meteorological and climate factors. Lengthy periods of little rainfall, low humidity and high temperatures can lead to increased flammability of plants.

In the first seven months of 2008 alone, 118 per cent of the 10-year average area has been burned in the United States, while 83 per cent of the 10-year average has been burned in neighbouring Canada.