Tourist and resident information on Portugal, Madeira and The Azores

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Forest Fires & Rising Temperatures in Portugal

There has been an increase in the number of wildfires in Portugal and Spain over recent years. Just this month firefighters in Portugal have been battling a huge blaze that has injured a number of people. During the current European heatwave temperatures in Portugal are forecast to exceed 40°C.

In 2017 more than 100 people were killed in wildfires in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande in central Portugal and other areas. Many were trapped by flames and burned to death in their cars.

In 2016 100,000 hectares of land on the mainland were burnt.

Forest fire near Guimaraes.
Wildfire in northern Portugal

Drought

Wildfires go hand-in-hand with drought and lack of rainfall. This year Portugal has been enduring one of its driest years on record. The country's weather service, the IPMA reported that almost the entire country was in a state of drought at the end of May 2022.

Research shows that the size and number of wildfires in Portugal began increasing at the end of the 1980s. Climate change is not the only factor at play but also changes in agriculture and land use. Abandonment of land along with depopulation and aging have left large tracts of previously farmed areas vulnerable to forest fires. If the land is untended it often returns to scrub with a subsequently greater biomass that can become the fuel for wildfires. 

Dry forest on Madeira.
Tinder-dry forest on Madeira

Resources

Climate Change Post

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