Longer bushfire seasons leave Australia exposed

01.09.15 By

Australia’s firefighting resources will come under increasing strain as climate change causes northern and southern hemisphere bushfire seasons to overlap.

Dozens of Australian firefighters have travelled to the United States to help fight more than 70 bushfires as the nation weathers one of its worst bushfire seasons in recent memory.

Meanwhile back in Australia, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) today warned that large areas of southern Australia are facing above normal fire potential for the 2015/2016 fire season, particularly along the east and west coasts extending inland.

According to the BNHCRC, the above normal forecast is mostly due to a strengthening El Nino over the Pacific Ocean, but is made more complex by the influence of warmer sea temperatures in the Indian Ocean. Significantly below average rainfalls over the last decade across almost all of eastern Australia, the west coast and Tasmania aren’t helping either.

The BNHCRC warned that such conditions will challenge the limited resources of the fire and land management agencies, and have created the situation where each fire season is likely to be more demanding than the last, both in economic and human costs.

Much of Australia’s firefighting equipment is leased from firefighting agencies in the northern hemisphere. With climate change driving longer bushfire seasons, and fire weather extending into October and March in Australia, the reliance on equipment from the northern hemisphere could increasingly leave Australia unprepared.

Photo credit: NSW RFS Media Services via Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0