CSIRO found that massive fires burning more than one million hectares are increasing due to climate change
New research by CSIRO has found that climate change is increasing the frequency of wildfires in Australia and putting entire ecosystems at risk.
the main points:
- The frequency of massive fires, in which more than one million hectares of forests were burned, suddenly increased after the year 2000
- The worst fire seasons usually follow La Niña, which Australia is currently experiencing
- The prescribed amount of burning has not changed over the past three decades
Over the past three decades, Australian forests have seen an 800 per cent increase in the area of bushfires burning, with researchers warning that ecosystems are at risk as they are unable to recover among the devastating infernos.
The research, published in Nature Communications, is based on a study that is the first of its kind that used 32 years of satellite data and 90 years of terrestrial data sets from climate and weather observations.
The increase in burned areas was not limited to the summer months. Since 1988, the fire season has extended into the cooler months, with a more than fivefold increase in the annual average area burned in the winter and a threefold increase in the fall.
“All of these things have completely changed over the past 15 years, with the fire essentially spreading for the entire 12 months,” said CSIRO Senior Investigator Dr.
Dr Cannadel said the study combined analysis of past wildfire sites with eight drivers of fire activity, including climate, fuel accumulation, ignition and prescribed burning.
“While all eight drivers of fire activity played different roles in influencing wildfires, climate was the biggest factor that drove fire activity,” he said.
Reducing risk is not a factor
Since the wildfires in the black summer, there has been intense debate about the role burns reduce risk I played at the intensity of the fires, but Dr. Cannadel says the burn described didn’t actually change.
“Overall, the described burning hasn’t really changed at all, and perhaps most importantly, just to realize that we’re burning one percent of forests annually, which is a really small amount,” he said.
Mick Meyer, a CSIRO scientist, agreed, and said that the stipulated burning was done mostly to protect the assets.
“If you try to burn the whole country down, it will actually change ecosystems,” he said.
Don’t be fooled by La Niña
Dr. Cannadel also warns that despite being postponed with wet conditions this year due to La Niña, the year following this weather phenomenon usually brings a bad fire season.
“The highest burning area actually comes a year after La Niña, because the humidity across the continent is already driving up fuel loads,” he said.