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Wildfires Intensifying in Europe

Context:

Europe is battling intense wildfires with countries like Spain, Greece and France struggling to stamp out fires and contain the damage.

Relevance:

GS I- Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is wildfire?
  2. What causes Wildfire?
  3. How dangerous is inhaling wildfire smoke?

What is wildfire?

  • A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire that burns in the wildland vegetation, often in rural areas. 
  • Wildfires can burn in forests, grasslands, savannas, and other ecosystems, and have been doing so for hundreds of millions of years.
  • They are not limited to a particular continent or environment.

What causes Wildfire?

  • Wildfires require right climatic conditions, burnable fuel and a spark.
  • Rising temperatures suck moisture out of plants, creating an abundance of dry fuel.
  • Drought and high heat can kill plants and dry out dead grass, and other material on the forest floor that fuel the fire once it starts sweeping through a patch.
  • While dry vegetation is the burnable fuel that serves as kindling for fires, the spark is sometimes caused by lightning, at other times by accident or recklessness of the local population.
Wildfire in Europe:
  • As for Europe, the region has been hit by an early fire season due to an unusually dry, hot spring that left the soil parched.
  • Authorities attribute this to climate change. They add that the fires are being fanned by earlier-than-usual extreme temperatures and drought conditions in some parts.
  • Wildfire experts agree as they see clear climate change signatures in the dryness, high heat and early fire season.

How dangerous is inhaling wildfire smoke?

  • While fire poses a direct risk to people’s life and property, wildfire smoke, and particularly the concentration of PM 2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 microns, can also affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
  • For those already suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses, there is a risk of flare-ups.

Source: Indian Express


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