By Mark Kaufman
Australia’s historic fire season, enhanced by a warming climate, still rages.
Though the profoundly parched bushlands around southeastern Australia received a much-needed deluge in mid-January, the rain was only enough to reduce fires — not stomp them out. It’s still peak fire season in many regions.
A new blaze ignited outside the Australian capital, Canberra, on Monday, and has now grown into an “out of control” bushfire some 23,400 acres (9,500 hectares) in size, according to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Emergency Services Agency.
Photographer Martin Ollman captured a dramatic time-lapse of the growing blaze as it burned vegetation on the hills outside Canberra.
The conditions for fire are “unprecedented,” ACT Rural Fire Service chief officer Joe Murphy told The Canberra Times on Tuesday.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
Help us tell more of the stories that matterBecome a founding member
This is little surprise. 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record. These unparalleled conditions turn vegetation into kindling. What’s more, the Canberra region is expected to experience “extremely high temperatures and low humidity” in the coming days, said the ACT. The blaze will almost certainly grow.
Though every bushfire or wildfire has multiple influences, rising average temperatures mean more fire weather, which boosts the odds for increased flames. In the coming decades, climate scientists expect Australia to see a sharp increase in severe fire weather as the planet continues to relentlessly warm.
“The message has always been the same,” James Ricketts, a veteran volunteer firefighter in Australia and a climate change impacts researcher, told Mashable. “Increased warming means increased fire risk.”
Subscribe to the newsletter news
We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe