... "There is a potential for the Southwest to more or less enter a permanent dust bowl situation," Swetnam said. "The extended drought that we are in now may become the norm."
Making matters worse, Miller said, the hotter and drier conditions are likely to be accompanied by more episodes of hurricane-force
But some scientists say it is not a foregone conclusion that megafires will flare up more often. Tony Westerling, a UC Merced professor of environmental engineering and principal investigator for the
However, Miller said those predicted extra winds are likely to follow on the heels of an even longer dry season that will persist through December. Westerling countered that while it is fairly certain the region will get hotter, it is unclear whether the heavily populated portion of
Nor is there a simple answer for the question of whether this year's fires are a direct consequence of global warming, scientists say. That's because conditions that contributed to the firestorms, such as the recent drought,