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Climate Change  <



Climate Change and Bushfires

Despite reluctance on the part of many bureaucrats to acknowledge the impacts of climate change, scientific evidence is mounting to present the picture of a drier, hotter climate for many areas of Australia. Global warming is predicted to escalate the magnitude, ferocity and frequency of fires in the near future.

The Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency tells us:

"It is difficult to precisely predict what the impacts of climate change will be, as they vary with each region. Best estimates are that by 2030 Australia will face:

  • a further 1˚C of warming in temperatures

  • up to 20 per cent more months of drought

  • up to 25 per cent increase in days of very high or extreme fire danger

  • increases in storm surges and severe weather events."

"Climate change is also expected to contribute to an increase in the number of extreme bushfire days in parts of NSW.... Research suggests that by 2020 fire seasons will start earlier and end slightly later, while being generally more intense throughout their length, with these changes becoming more pronounced by 2050.

An increase in mean temperatures and a decrease in rainfall and relative humidity will likely amplify the fire danger in south eastern forests, with increased fire frequency and extent of area burned."

This was taken from:

Greg Watts, Ranger, Deua National Park, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service sums up the research from the Australian Government Greenhouse Office. Even back in 2002 the evidence was being assembled:

Global Warming Fire Weather Forecasts for South East NSW

SOURCE: Australian Greenhouse Office 2002

  • Annual average temperatures will increase by 1-6 degrees C. by 2070.
  • There will be an increase in the number of days over 35 degrees C.
  • Prevailing winds will shift from the SW to NW quadrants.
  • Lightning-bearing storm events will be more frequent, creating more bushfire ignitions.
  • Average annual rainfall will decrease by 35% by 2070.
  • Increased temperature and wind run from the NW will increase evaporation - the vegetation will be drier, and droughts will be more frequent.
  • Average annual soil moisture will decrease by 40-130 mm by 2030, making surface fuels drier.
  • Stream flow will decrease by up to 60% by 2070.

As a result there will be:

  • increased bushfire frequency
  • a significant decrease in inter-fire period from an average of 43 years to 16 years
  • increased fire intensity
  • reduced fire extinguishments
  • longer fire-fighting campaigns
  • significant increases in average annual burnt areas - frequent 'mega-fires'.


Taken from http://www.nccnsw.org.au/images/stories/bushfire/watts_notes.pdf


Updated July 2011