California’s Wildfire and Climate Change Warnings Are Still Too Conservative, Scientist Says

"I think what we have been observing has consistently been outpacing what we've been predicting," said LeRoy Westerling, professor of management of complex systems at the University of California, Merced, who modeled the risk of future wildfires as part of the California Climate Change Assessment released in August.

The report estimated that the average area burned by wildfires would increase 77 percent by 2100 and the frequency of extreme wildfireswould increase by nearly 50 percent if global greenhouse gas emissions continue at a high rate.

Westerling said wildfires are likely to continue to outpace those recent projections because the underlying global climate models used underestimate precipitation changes in California, including periods of prolonged drought.