Australia — AUSTRALIA has been ranked the worst place in the world for bushfires and Queensland has been warned it should brace for another bad season. Much of the state is covered with heavy vegetation after successive wet years.
Weather Channel meteorologist Dick Whitaker said with most climate models trending towards El Nino or drought conditions, it did not augur well for much of the continent.
Australia was the worst place for bushfires because of highly flammable eucalypt forests, drought and heatwaves, a situation no other country had.
Mr Whitaker and fellow meteorologists Tom Saunders and Felim Hanniffy reviewed Australia’s weather ranking against the rest of the world for events such as cyclones, driest and wettest locations, snow and temperature, finding the US has the worst weather of all.
Australia had endured some brutal weather events in the past decade, ranging from Cyclone Yasi and the Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley floods to Canberra’s 2003 bushfires, in which 500 houses burned down.
“It will come as no surprise that Australia is ranked No.1 in bushfires,” Mr Whitaker said.
“Australia’s weather, along with the rest of the world, will become more severe over coming decades due to global warming as heat is a key driver in severe weather.
“Severe thunderstorms as well as flooding, bushfires and heat waves are likely to increase in frequency.”
The warning comes as University of Melbourne scientists release data showing there are no other warm periods in the past 1000 years that match the warming experienced in Australasia since 1950.
Warming cannot be explained by natural factors alone, suggesting human-caused climate change.
Their study will form part of the contribution to the next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
Mr Whitaker said Australia ranked highly in four of the eight weather categories studied – wettest location, bushfires, cyclones and heatwaves.
Surprisingly, Australia did not feature in the world’s five driest locations because even the Lake Eyre region in SA has periodic rain bands.
Australia also does not rank on major temperature variation because the surrounding oceans have a moderating effect on the climate.
Mr Whitaker said the US took the top spot because it had an astonishing variety of weather, including hurricanes, blizzards, tornados, extreme heat, bone-numbing cold, major floods and long-term drought.