Newfoundland wildfires could foretell what climate change has in store for province

WildFire. Image credit: Unsplash/Fabian Jones

A local climatologist reportedly said that the burning of forest fires for more than two weeks in central Newfoundland could be a premonition of what the province could expect as it feels the impacts of climate change.

Joel Finnis, an associate professor at Memorial University, reported saying Thursday that there is a probability that the conditions that enabled the wildfires in the first place could become more common as the province heats up and its climate changes.

“It’s not that an event like this is impossible without climate change. It’s that climate change is making this kind of event more common,” Finnis said in an interview. “This kind of event is a real reminder that the climate system is not waiting for us to get our act together,” he added.

Two large forest fires have been burning since July 24 near the central Newfoundland town of Grand Falls-Windsor and the nearby Bay d’Espoir highway. The fires have intermittently shut down the highway since they first began, cutting off towns along the island’s south coast from the rest of the island and closing a crucial transport route for supplies.

According to provincial Forestry Department reports, large forest fires have historically been more common in Labrador.

Finnis said that with Newfoundland’s climate changes and average temperatures creeping upward, rain is likely to fall less frequently.