The World Daily
Climate change perpetuates Australian fires, study finds

Bushfires below Stacks Bluff, Tasmania, Australia. Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash 


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | NOVEMBER 29th 2021 


A new study from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that over the course of the last 30 years, bush fires in Australia had been increasingly driven by climate change, becoming longer and deadlier overtime.

Though the correlation between forest fires and climate change has been known for a while now, this is among the first studies of its kind to confirm it, using data gathered from previous forest fire incidents and elements driving fire activity, and was published in the Nature Communications journal.

“While all eight drivers of fire-activity played varying roles in influencing forest fires, climate was the overwhelming factor driving fire-activity,” said CSIRO scientist, Pep Canadell. Some of the most popular fire activity drivers include ignition, fuel accumulation and climate among them.

“There is a lot of things we can do, and we are working on a lot of new warning systems, increase the prediction capabilities, so we can be better prepared before the fire comes,” Canadell added. “That is probably the single-most important thing we can do.”

32 years of satellite data and 90 years of ground-based research were analysed by the researchers for the study. They had warned that the likelihood of mega-fires, like those in Australia’s 2020 blaze, will become increasingly likely to occur again as time goes on and the conditions of the climate continue to worsen.

24 million hectares of land were burned in the Australian ‘Black Summer’ of bushfires, which lasted from July 2019 through to 2020. To this day it remains the country’s most intense bushfire season on record. Fears over history repeating itself have been common since, with authorities taking extra precautions during recent Summer months. 


“In Australia, fire frequency has increased rapidly in some areas and there are now regions in the southeast and south with fire intervals shorter than 20 years. This is significant because it means some types of vegetation won’t reach maturity and this could put ecosystems at risk,” said Canadell.

He added: “Understanding these trends will help to inform emergency management, health, infrastructure, natural resource management and conservation.”

The research noted that over the last 30 years, the overall occurrence of extreme heat events has risen, while the rate of rainfall had fallen. Furthermore, the years between 2013 and 2019 had all ranked as seven among the nine warmest years on record for Australia, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) State of the Climate report.

“The results also suggest the frequency of forest megafires are likely to continue under future projected climate change,” said Canadell.

Despite all this, Australia’s government has still refused to set down any sort of short-term emission reduction targets. To this day, the country remains one of the world’s largest exporters of both fuels and gas. Recently, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had even reportedly done “a bit of a jig” at the news that one of the biggest fossil fuel projects in the country had received its final investment approval, much to the dismay of conservationists. 


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021 

Source: Al Jazeera, VOA News