Fire season 69 days longer as Climate Council warns fire fighting resources need to double by 2030

Fire season 69 days longer as Climate Council warns fire fighting resources need to double by 2030

20 November 2015

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Australia — The Climate Council is warning Australia will need to double the number of fire fighters to tackle bushfires by 2030.

In a new report called “Burning Issue: Climate Change and the Australian Bushfire” the independently funded Climate Council said the fire season globally had increased by 19 per cent or an extra 69 days, over the past 35 years.

The Council’s Amanda McKenzie said resources like helicopters, sky cranes called Elvis, and water bombing planes were being used for longer in fighting fires in the United States and Canada.

“It’s been a great advantage that we can share resources with North America.

“The trouble is as the fire seasons overlap into spring and autumn both in the southern and northern hemisphere, it becomes more challenging to draw on our international friends to help us.

“So it’s a real resourcing issue,” she said.

“That’s why we’ve estimated at a minimum fire fighting resources and personnel would need to double by 2030.”

The Climate Council said the lengthening of Australia’s fire season was reducing the window for hazard reduction burning.

It is supported by a report in September of Australia’s 2015-16 fire season, by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

The drying conditions of El Nino has increased the hazard for eastern Australia and most of Western Australia.

Intense and longer fires also generate more greenhouse gases.

Savannah fires generate as much as 4 per cent of Australia’s emissions, according to the Clean Energy Regulator.

Pastoralists at Cape York in Far North Queensland have told ABC Rural the normal fire season had changed, because the storms were not arriving in early September or October to put out the fires.

“If you have increasing bushfires you get more greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere,” Ms McKenzie said.

“This year is likely to be the hottest year on record, the 39th year of above average global temperatures — a long term temperature trend.”

She said Australia could be facing a similar season as the United States this year, which had one of its worst wild fire seasons on record.

About 50,000 bushfires burned over 38,000 square kilometres in the US of land between January and October.

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