AUSTRALIA – Australia’s worst bushfire season where an area three times the size of Ireland burned will seem like a holiday bonfire compared to what is to come, scientists warn.
The nation will lose entire towns to bushfires for an extra month, swelter through even more blazing summers, and drown in torrential rain and flooding.
Such dire predictions are detailed on a terrifying map in The State of the Climate report, released on Friday by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO,
Australia will also be battered by more severe storms, and heavy rainfall causing dangerous flash flooding will become more intense.
CSIRO’s Climate Science Centre research director, Dr Jaci Brown, said though 2019 was the hottest year on record, it wouldn’t be unusual in coming decades.
The report found the frequency of the most dangerous 10 per cent of fire weather days have increased in recent decades, especially in the south and east – up to 25 more a year
The State of the Climate report was released on Friday by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. This map shows Australia is set for wild weather this summer and over the coming years
Bureau of Meteorology says Australia’s temperature to rise
‘In fact, we think of this decade being hot, but this decade will be one of the coolest in the next hundred years,’ she said.
Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 degrees since 1910, and of the nine warmest years on record, seven were from 2013 to 2019.
The shift in temperature has also meant the frequency of extremely cold days and nights has declined across the country.
The report found the frequency of the most dangerous 10 per cent of fire weather days have increased in recent decades, especially in the south and east.
Many areas of the country will have weeks more dangerous fire weather days – up to 25 in the worst-affected regions.
BoM Climate Environmental Prediction Services manager, Dr Karl Braganza, said longer fire seasons with more days of extreme risk meant less opportunity to reduce fuel loads during cooler months.
Climate change has influenced bushfire patterns through its impact on temperature, rainfall, and humidity that affects fuel moisture content.
‘We don’t necessarily feel the 1.44 degrees increase in Australian average temperature, but we feel those heatwaves and we feel the fire weather,’ he said.
The report warns Australia will battle longer and more dangerous bushfire seasons. Pictured: A CFA Member works on controlled back burns along Putty Road in Sydney on November 14, 2019
Pictured: A burnt car is seen a bushfire in Quaama, New South Wales, on January 6 2020
Timelapse of massive storm brewing over Sydney’s South West
Over the short term the wet weather associated with the La Nina weather pattern is expected to persist through spring and summer, but Dr Braganza said there were still dry parts of the country in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
He said southern Australia is one of the most fire prone regions on the globe.
The report said this area will likely brace weather conditions that are ‘conducive to extreme bushfires that can generate thunderstorms within their smoke plumes’.
‘These fire-generated thunderstorms can lead to extremely dangerous fire conditions, as observed during the 2019–20 summer,’ it reads.
‘In some cases, the lightning strikes produced from the smoke plumes generate new fires.’
Southern Australia is one of the most fire prone regions on the globe. The report said this area will likely brace weather conditions that are ‘conducive to extreme bushfires that can generate thunderstorms within their smoke plumes’. Pictured: Orange skies are seen in East Gippsland in January this year
Of the nine warmest years on record, seven were from 2013 to 2019. Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 degrees since 1910. Pictured: Melburnians flock to St Kilda Beach during hot weather on November 3
CLIMATE PREDICTIONS FOR THE COMING DECADES
More extremely hot days and fewer extremely cool days
Decrease in cool season rainfall across the south and east, likely leading to drought
Longer fire season, with an increase in the number of dangerous fire days
More intense short-duration heavy rainfall events, which can lead to flash flooding
Greater proportion of high-intensity storms
More frequent, intense and longer-lasting marine heatwaves
Continued warming of oceans
Ongoing rising sea levels
The latest deadly bushfire season burnt more than 18 million hectares, destroying 3,000-plus homes and killing 33 people.
Drawing on the latest climate observations and projections, the biennial report is designed to deliver up-to-date information to aid decision making.
Other key findings include declining rainfall in the southeast and southwest of the country and rising sea levels in line with global trends.
But observations show there has actually been an increase in the intensity of heavy rainfall events – which lead to flash flooding and the destruction of homes.
The report reads: ‘Short-duration extreme rainfall events are often associated with flash flooding, and so these changes in intensity bring increased risk to communities.
‘This is particularly so in urban environments where the large amount of impervious ground cover (e.g. concrete) leads to increased flooding during heavy downpours.’
Rising sea levels around Australia cause further concern due to the increased risk of damage to coastal infrastructure and communities.
The report states oceans around the country are being affected by climate change, with significant impacts on marine ecosystems.
Surface waters are acidifying, and the frequency, intensity and duration of marine heatwaves have increased.
‘These trends, which are projected to continue in the coming decades, are already posing a significant threat to the long-term health and resilience of the coral reef ecosystems around Australia’s coast,’ Dr Brown said.
Pictured: RFS conduct property protection patrols at the Dunn Road fire on January 10, 2020 in Mount Adrah, NSW. Australia 2019 to 2020 bushfire season burnt more than 17million hectares, destroying over 3,000 homes and killing 33 people