What causes rainforest fires?
Researcher Mikaela Weisse says that “fires don’t happen naturally in tropical rainforests. They’re almost always caused by human use of fire.”
Typically, rainforests permanently wet and humid state make them resistant to fast-spreading fires. Changing climate in recent years, however, has brought about severe drought and high temperatures to tropical rainforests, making rainforests more susceptible to catching fire from man-made sources.
Both logging and fires also thin out forests, making future fires more likely. “Areas that have been burned or partially deforested are more likely to burn again now that they’ve been thinned out,” Weisse says. “There’s more sunlight hitting the forest floor, so that kind of creates a positive feedback loop.”