Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

As Australia bushfires rage, warning of more heatwaves
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Jan 12, 2013

Firefighters were battling scores of wildfires raging in Australia Saturday, as a government commission warned that climate change had raised the risk of scorching heatwaves becoming more frequent.

In the eastern state of New South Wales, some 1,000 firefighters were attempting to douse about 94 wildfires, about dozen uncontained, while fires were also burning in neighbouring Victoria and Queensland states.

And in the southern island state of Tasmania, known for its cooler temperatures, residents were returning to the burnt-out homes they fled a week ago when flames raced through villages on the Tasman peninsula.

No deaths have been reported from the bushfires, which have flared during extreme summer temperatures, but the unprecedented heatwave has prompted the government's Climate Commission to issue a new report on the weather event.

It says that climate change has contributed to making the extreme heat conditions -- in which record-breaking temperatures in parts of the country have topped 45 degrees Celsius (113 F) -- and bushfires worse.

"The length, extent and severity of the current heatwave are unprecedented in the measurement record," the report "Off the Charts: Extreme Australian summer heat" notes.

"Although Australia has always had heatwaves, hot days and bushfires, climate change is increasing the risk of more frequent and longer heatwaves and more extreme hot days, as well as exacerbating bushfire conditions."

It says while many factors influence the potential for bushfires, so called "fire weather" is highly sensitive to changes in climatic conditions.

And hotter temperatures, longer heatwaves, high winds and drier soils and grasses can all dramatically exacerbate fire conditions.

"Thus when fire occurs in more extreme weather conditions, there is the potential for the fire to be far more intense and difficult to control," the report said.

One of the report's authors David Karoly said there was clear evidence of an increasing trend in hot extremes in Australia, where the current heatwave has affected more than 70 percent of the vast continent nation.

Karoly said the current heatwave, which began in December, saw the average maximum daily temperature across the whole of Australia hit a 40.3 degrees Celsius on January 7, breaking a record of 40.17 C which had stood since 1972.

"That's an amazing temperature," he told AFP. "No cool areas offsetting the record heat. What we've been experiencing this week... people have been calling it a 'dome' of hot air."

Karoly said there was likely to be an increased frequency of hot extremes, more hot days, more heat waves and more extreme bush fire days during Australian summers in the future.

"We still will have natural climate variability, so some years will be cooler and a little bit wetter," he said.

"But, yes, we will expect to see more frequent heatwaves that are lasting longer and covering more of the country and getting more and more intense as time goes on."

There was some relief from the heat in sight Saturday, with cooler temperatures expected to help firefighters battling blazes in southern New South Wales and Victoria.

But in northern inland New South Wales, the temperature soared past 40 C and fires, hit by increased winds, were still burning strongly.

Wildfires are a fact of life in arid Australia, where 173 people died in the 2009 Black Saturday firestorm, the nation's worst natural disaster of modern times.

As owners returned to their gutted homes this week in the small communities of Dunalley and Murdunna in Tasmania, they were aware things could have been worse.

"Never mind these things can be replaced, it's not a problem," one man told the ABC as he surveyed his destroyed holiday home in Murdunna.


Related Links
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Australians face trauma of returning to razed homes
Sydney (AFP) Jan 11, 2013
Australians who fled for their lives from raging bushfires faced the trauma Friday of returning to see if they still had homes, as firefighters battled worsening conditions to douse about 100 blazes. After two days of cooler weather, heat and high winds returned to much of the country as fire crews tackled the infernos that have been burning for a week, 20 of them out of control in the most ... read more

Nineteen children among 46 dead in China landslide

Haiti is recovering, leader tells quake ceremony

Philippines to move 100,000 squatters

US storm turns airport into vast used-car purgatory

How the kilogram has put on weight

Japan to survey Pacific seabed for rare earth

3D printing creates 'virtual' fossil

LEON: the space chip that Europe built

Interagency Report Published on Information Required for Short-Term Water Management Decisions

Heat-resistant corals provide clues to climate change survival

Baby sharks stay still to avoid being detected by predators

Genetics clues to survival of coral reef

A new approach to assessing future sea level rise from ice sheets

A New Way to Study Permafrost Soil, Above and Below Ground

Bering Sea study finds prey density more important to predators than biomass

Fiennes sails for Antarctica on first winter crossing bid

KFC parent company sorry over China chicken scare

Report: World wastes half of its food

Invading species can extinguish native plants despite recent reports

Bugs need symbiotic bacteria to exploit plant seeds

Malawi floods kill three, displace thousands

Red-dust sunset as west Australia braces for cyclone

Russian volcano erupting with gas, ash

Rains bring flood havoc, drought relief to desert Jordan

Sudanese army claims it killed more than 50 rebels

Central African PM dismissed after ceasefire deal

Foreign troops arrive in Mali: witnesses

Zambia bans lion, leopard hunting

Eliminating useless information important to learning, making new memories

Tech world crawling into the crib

Promising compound restores memory loss and reverses symptoms of Alzheimer's

Dopamine-receptor gene variant linked to human longevity

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement