Disturbing predictions for Australia ahead of bushfire season

Pablo Tucker
November 15, 2020

These factors contributed to the devastating bushfires in Australia's south and southeast last summer, but Dr Braganza says most of the country will be at risk of flooding this summer instead.

"This report presents a synthesis of our most up-to-date understanding of the changing nature of Australia's climate, providing a sound base for economic, environmental and social decision-making now and into the future".

Delivering their sixth biennial State of the Climate report on Friday, researchers from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO confirmed Australia's climate is continuing to heat up.

Australia's climate has warmed on average by 1.44 degrees Celsius since 1910 and this will result in more wild fires, droughts and marine heat waves, the report said.

Karl Braganza, manager of Climate Environmental Prediction Services in BOM, said the report confirmed that there had been a "significant increase in the frequency of risky fire weather days across Australia, particularly during spring and summer, leading to an earlier start to the southern fire season".

The report predicts Australia will have an increased fire threat, inconsistent rainfall and a more acidic ocean.

According to the report, across the coming years, Australia's climate will continue to get warmer and sea levels will rise due to an increase of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Morrison refused to match other developed countries in setting a target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but said that the country, in line with the Paris accord, expects to reach net zero emissions after 2050.

Surface waters are acidifying, and the frequency, intensity and duration of marine heatwaves have increased.

Research director of the CSIRO's Climate Science Centre Jaci Brown said rising sea levels can be attributed to two things: melting ice caps and thermal expansion.

"Climate change is happening now and it will continue to happen", Brown told the ABC.

"The science is telling us that the impacts of climate change are already affecting Australian communities".

The State of the Climate 2020 report can be found on the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology websites.

"We're seeing the fire season arrive months earlier in some instances in some southern parts of the country, which obviously reduces your fuel reduction period, but it also means that along with those early season heatwaves, we're seeing an earlier start to having fires in the landscape".

Rainfall and streamflow have increased across parts of northern Australia since the 1970s. The rate of Carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere has increased with every passing decade since atmospheric measurements began.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Head of Climate Monitoring. "Australia's water sector is highly innovative and these insights will help us to better support them for the future".

Mark Leplastrier, the executive manager natural perils at IAG, said the latest State of the Climate report highlights the need for the industry to take action now.

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