2023 the Year of Wildfires in Canada

After raging wildfires in Alberta, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, more than 150 wildfires are currently burning in Quebec, and as a result, Monday will be cloudy and smokey throughout the province. Morning smog advisories were issued by Environment Canada, which stated that “atmospheric conditions could result in a deterioration in air quality.”

wildfire in Canada

A sizable portion of Quebec, including the greater Montreal region where the air quality may deteriorate beginning in the afternoon, is under the warning. Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Gatineau, Lanaudière, and the Laurentians are some areas that have been affected.

The 153 fires currently blazing in the province of Quebec cannot all be put out, according to the Quebec fire service. It claims that until reinforcements arrive, it can only attack 20 to 30 fires at once.

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Outside of the province, firemen and military personnel began to arrive on Saturday to assist local firefighters. There are currently about 100 soldiers on the scene, and 550 more firefighters are in route. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Sunday that France would deploy 100 additional firemen to assist in putting out the fires raging throughout Quebec.

The support should enable the provincial fire agency, the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu (SOPFEU), to alter its existing policy of protecting cities and infrastructure in order to go on the offensive and completely extinguish the fires.

A record-breaking early wildfire season has burnt 2.8 million hectares in Canada.

Reasons for Wildfire in Canada

“It is a simple fact that Canada is experiencing the impacts of climate change, including more frequent and more extreme wildfires,” said Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

Depending on white side of the fence you are standing, to ones it is global warming to blame for Canadian wildfires, to the other ones it is simply coincidence. But is it?

Just few days ago, a 28-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly setting two fires in the woods near Sooke, B.C., in Alberta, charges have been brought against a man in relation to what the RCMP refers to as “a series of intentionally set wildfires,” in addition to many arsons committed against cars, houses, and a church. According to the Kamloops RCMP, a man has been accused in relation to a series of suspicious fires that left a neighbourhood in Kamloops, British Columbia, and a surrounding hamlet terrified.

Wildfire burning in Canada

Coincidence, Global Warming or Human influence

The Canadian National Fire Database (CNFDB) is a compilation of information about forest fires from multiple sources. This information includes point data on the locations of fires and polygon data on their perimeters, both of which were provided by provincial, territorial, and Parks Canada fire management organizations in Canada.

According to information from the National Forestry Database, around 8000 fires burn an average of more than 2.1 million hectares annually. Additionally, although lightning is responsible for 85% of the annual area burned, it only starts around 50% of all fires. Ok, here we have one proof of what causes Canadian wildfires: lightning is starts at least 50% of wildfires! How about the rest? Human carelessness and purpously setting fires!

To even further reduce the notion of global warming trendsetters as being the number one cause for wildfires in Canada, according the information provided by the Canadian National Fire database, during 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns there were record low amounts of wildfires in Canada on record!

Source: Canadian National Fire Database

What caused the elimination of wildfires in 2020? The only reasonable guess would be less people in free nature during 2020! But wildfires are on the rise in recent years in Canada. According the data provided by Canadian Journal of Forest Research, there are more wildfires on yearly basis in Canada.

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The future of wildland fire in Canada faces a serious issue and have gained attention in scientific studies over the past few decades. Lightning strikes, the occurrence of more extreme fire weather, the length of the fire season, the intensity of the fire, the area burned, emissions, and both the incidence and frequency of fires are anticipated to increase as a result of climate change in many Canadian locations.

Wildfire history in Canada
SOURCE: Canadian Journal of Forest Research

Image a) shows:

Wildfires across the country during period from 19060 to 2015

Image b) shows:

What caused ignition of wildfires in history during different months

If we take those two slides, wildfires in Canada are actually on the decline, 2023 is the exception of the trend, but the data shows that human activity and humans causing fires is rising while lightning is on the decline since 1990. If we take Canadian population growth in account, one must not be Nostradamus to predict the future of Canadian wildfires if this issue is not addressed soon.

One can push partisan ideology and be as loud as one can be to support one or the other agenda, yet precious Canadian forests are burning increased because of human interaction. What will it take to control this increased destruction of natural resources and therefore increased global catastrophe? Lockdowns, restrictions or education of the population?

Awareness will not hurt, that’s for sure.

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