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Surge seen in number of U.S. wildfires

Each year between 1984 and 2011, the area of scorched land increased by 355 square kilometers.

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Guest post by Beth Mole

The number and size of wildfires in the western United States has steadily risen over the last three decades, according to a new report.

Between 1984 and 2011, the number of large, uncontrolled burns jumped by seven each year. The area of scorched land also expanded by 355 square kilometers each year.

The finding, based on national wildfire database, appeared April 17 in Geophysical Research Letters. The authors, led by geographer Philip Dennison of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, say that the trend could continue due to ongoing climate change that will raise temperatures and spur more severe droughts.

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