In the American West, wildfires are essential for keeping forests healthy. But the same fires that help release nutrients and promote new plant growth can also wipe out thousands of acres of forest and cause millions of dollars in damage.
Since the 1970s, wildfires have been on the rise and some of this is due to a warming planet. But increased wildfires because of hot climate is not the whole story. Here we look at the way climate can affect vegetation in the West, and what influence this has on wildfires. Drought and rainfall can have very different wildfire outcomes depending on where you look in the West.