American climatologists have reconstructed the history of wildfires on Earth over the past 2,000 years and found that the frequency of wildfires has dropped dramatically over the past 300 years.
Specialists at Harvard University recorded a sharp decline in the frequency of forest fires in the middle of the 18th century.
In their opinion, this is due to the rejection of the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture, when forests were burned in order to use the vacated land for planting crops.
Later, with the development of progress, by the middle of the 18th century, most European countries abandoned this practice: this led to a sharp decrease in the frequency of occurrence of forest fires.
Traditionally, it is believed that the frequency of forest fires was much lower in the pre-industrial era than it is today. Our analysis of ice deposits in Antarctica shows that in the recent past they appeared much more often than today.
Loretta Mikli, Senior Fellow, Harvard University
According to the results of the work, the authors stated that climatologists underestimate the level of influence of natural and man-made fires on the Earth’s climate in the pre-industrial era. This may explain why current climate models overestimate how strongly fluctuations in greenhouse gas concentrations affect Earth’s surface temperatures.