How climate change made Chile's wildfires so deadly

Source(s): Thomson Reuters

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Scientists say the main driving factor for such a devastating event is simple: hotter temperatures.

Part of the reason the wildfires spread so far and so quickly was high winds. Raul Cordero, a climatologist at the University of Santiago, says strong summer winds are common in central Chile since air coming down from the Andes mountain range and other elevated areas compresses and heats up.

"What's different this time is that the temperatures were much higher than before," Cordero said. He noted the region was going through a heat wave likely caused by climate change and the El Nino phenomenon, when unusually warm water temperatures off the Pacific coast of South America roil global weather patterns.

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As climate change worsens, scientists say extreme weather will become more frequent and severe, making deadly events like last week's fires more common.

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