“Recent experience down here suggests that what we’re looking at in the last few decades is at least as severe and maybe more so than anything we’ve seen since the last Ice Age,” Grant Meyer, a geologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque tells the Christian Science Monitor. In addition to a buildup of fuels from forestry practices, “part of it as well – and the data are very good on this – it’s climatic warming” as human industrial activity and land-use changes have pumped increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “A long-term average decline in annual snow pack, which provides the bulk of the region’s water, along with rising average temperatures have lengthened the fire season and dried out the fuel.”
“As firefighters we’re seeing extreme fire behavior and the kind of growth we haven’t seen in our careers,” Jerome McDonald of the Southwest Area Incident Management Team said. “We have seen fire behavior we’ve never seen down here, and it’s really aggressive,” says Los Alamos fire chief Donald Tucker.