2011-05-20

More and More, the Boreal Will Burn

Wildfires ripping through Alberta's boreal forest or what government officials call "freakish" firestorms are really a snapshot of how warming global temperatures and intensified insect infestations will change the nation's boreal forest, say scientists.

In the last week nearly 100 wildfires, battled by 1,000 forest fighters, have shut in billions of dollars worth of oil and gas facilities and forced the evacuation of 2,000 oil workers from Fort McMurray to Peace River.

One raging inferno, driven by 100 kilometre winds, destroyed a third of the community of Slave Lake north of Edmonton. That smoky region is also chock full of dead trees killed by the mountain pine beetle, another harbinger of changing global weather patterns.