As Australia braces for one of its most devastating fire seasons ever, it’s essential to stay aware of the science behind the increasingly hazardous connection between Australian bushfires and global warming. A growing body of evidence shows that climate change is increasing bushfire risks by causing them to occur earlier in the year – making it harder for fire managers to control and reduce their effects.
Temperatures are also impacting the length of fire season. Heatwaves have become longer and more frequent, creating an increase in fire danger days.
Drought has compounded bushfire problems across much of Australia. Estimates suggest that drought has reduced water availability to fuel wildfires by 15% in some regions, placing an even greater strain on firefighting equipment and volunteers.
As Australia’s bushfire season grows more severe due to climate change, governments are adopting fire management strategies in an effort to enhance their capacity for responding effectively. This includes early warning systems that alert people when fires may occur so they can take steps to prepare their homes, vehicles and belongings for evacuation.
It is essential for communities to comprehend the risks posed by bushfire and take necessary precautions. This can be accomplished by providing them with concise yet comprehensive information regarding such dangers and how best to deal with them.
Climate change is altering climate variability throughout Australia, particularly in southern and eastern Australia, making it easier for extreme weather events to happen when they’re least expected. These shifts are caused by global warming and contribute to an earlier start of bushfire season in those areas.
Another key factor in determining fire severity is rainfall over time. According to CSIRO research, southeast Australia has experienced an annual reduction of 15% in late autumn and winter rainfall as well as 25% drops in average spring and summer rain since 1990.
These rainfall trends and a warming climate have combined to create extreme fire weather in southeast Australia over the past few years. As a result, areas in southern and eastern Australia are now more vulnerable to hot and dry conditions with an increase in extreme fire danger days of 30% since July 2018.
Research is increasingly showing a link between climate change and an increase in extreme heat events – such as bushfires. For instance, the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires were preceded by a decade-long drought and record hot year that were worsened by climate change.
Governments must take immediate action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and create an urgent plan to help communities, health services and emergency services prepare for an increasing fire danger. This includes limiting Australia’s temperature rise to 1.5degC or less by the end of this century – which would significantly reduce fire intensity as well as other climate change effects.