The Deseret News just reported on a new study that shows a more compelling link between hotter climate conditions and wildfires than had been demonstrated before. The scientists involved studied lake sediment cores, in which you can find horizons with bits of charcoal in them, indicating large fires. The charcoal can be carbon-14 dated to find the age, and the results can be compared to paleoclimate records to find links.
The study’s lead author is Mitch Power from the University of Utah. Over the past few years I’ve actually gone out on Utah Lake to collect sediment cores a couple times with Mitch, one of his graduate students, my pal Steve Nelson, and some of Steve’s and my geochemistry students. (We were looking at the cores for different reasons, so we would split the cores we took.) Congrats to Mitch!