A series of bushfires/ wildfires, are burning across Australia, predominantly in the south-east.
How common are forest fires in Australia?
- Australia, where the summer starts around October, is known to be the most fire-prone of all continents. This is mainly because Australia is also the driest inhabited continent.
- Almost 70 % of its area comprises arid or semi-arid land, with average annual rainfall less than 350 mm, according to the Australian government’s Department of Environment and Energy.
How are the ongoing fires different?
- This Australian summer, the spread and intensity of forest fires are something never seen before. The fire has impacted more than 10.3 million hectares of forest land so far, an area the size of South Korea.
- Twenty-seven people have so far died, while reports suggest millions of wild animals might have been killed.
- Several record-breaking weather conditions are believed to have contributed to this unprecedented wave of forest fires. Heat and dryness are the key preconditions for the ignition and spread of forest fires.
- 2019 happened to be the warmest and driest year for the country since 1900. Daytime temperatures were, on an average, 2°C higher than normal, while average rainfall for the country was 40% below normal.
- Australia is in the midst of a prolonged drought, now spreading to three consecutive years.
- Nearly all the drivers of the extraordinary heat and dryness in Australia, which has led to these unprecedented forest fires, could directly be linked to climate change.
Source : Indian Express