National science agency says climate ‘overwhelming factor’ in driving fires, with fire seasons getting longer and affecting more areas.
New research by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has found climate change has driven a significant increase in forest fires in the country over the past 30 years.
The study was published in Nature CommunicationsA combined analysis of forest fires sites from the past with eight drivers of fire activity, including climate, fuel accumulation and fire management (prescribed burning).
It found fire seasons were getting longer and that blazes had become more common not only in alpine forests in the southern island of Tasmania but also in the tropical rainforests of Queensland in the country’s northeast.
Pep Canadell, CSIRO scientist, stated that the research was important in understanding how climate change might affect future fire activity. This is a country that has been vulnerable to bushfires for a long time.
“While all eight drivers of fire-activity played varying roles in influencing forest fires, climate was the overwhelming factor driving fire-activity,” Canadell said in a statement.
“The results also suggest the frequency of forest megafires are likely to continue under future projected climate change.”
According to CSIRO, three of the four megafires that occurred in the last 90 years were after 2000. Megafire years are defined as the cumulative forest fire area that exceeds 1 million hectares (or 2.47 million acres) in a single year.
In the southern hemisphere, fires in the summer of 2019/2020 destroyed 11.5 million hectares (28.4 millions acres) of drought-stricken bushland in southeastern Australia. This created apocalyptic orange skies. trapped peopleTo be evacuated by boat
More than 30 people were killed in the attack, and thousands of homes were damaged. Scientists have estimated that there were nearly three billion animals involved. killed or displaced.
The country’s weather bureau warned last year that Australia’s climate was expected to become hotter and drier, and blamed carbon emissions for the increase in extreme heat.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) State of the Climate report said Australia’s climate had warmedSince 1910, national records have been kept at 1.44C (2.6F). In 2019, the country experienced its warmest year ever. According to the BoM’s data, the seven years that spanned 2013 through 2019 were all among the nine most warm.
Scientists at CSIRO identified climate change-driven increases in fires that were not natural variability. They used 32 years of satellite data as well as 90 years of ground-based data from climate and weather observations to simulate fuel loads for Australian forests.
The science agency observed that extreme heat events had increased rapidly, while rainfall had decreased in the eastern and southern regions of the continent.
The research found that Australia’s average annual forest area increased by 350 percent between 1988 and 2001, and 800 percent if you include 2019.
The research showed that there was a five-fold increase of the annual average burned area in southern hemisphere winters and an increase of threefold in autumn. Spring and Summer saw a tenfold increase.
“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,” Canadell said.
“Understanding these trends will help to inform emergency management, health, infrastructure, natural resource management and conservation.”