Nov 20, 2015

Record Heat Puts Australia at Risk of Intense Fire Season

Esperance WA 6450
Australia
by
Michelle Innis
,
New York Times
A fire east of Esperance in Western Australia this week. A prolonged fire season could strain the largely volunteer firefighting forces in Australia and destroy crops, livestock and farms. Credit Department of Fire and Emergency/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A fire east of Esperance in Western Australia this week. A prolonged fire season could strain the largely volunteer firefighting forces in Australia and destroy crops, livestock and farms. Credit Department of Fire and Emergency/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A fire that raged this week across hundreds of thousands of acres of grasslands and about-to-be harvested wheat crops, killing a farmer and three workers, points to a dangerous summer ahead in Australia, scientists and weather watchers say...The combination of record heat and very dry conditions — October was the hottest month in Australia ever after its third-driest September — is prompting some officials to predict an especially intense fire season, which started early this year...“Climate change is loading the dice when it comes to fire risk in Australia,” Lesley Hughes, a professor and researcher at the Climate Council, a publicly funded research institute, said. “El Niño adds another level of complexity.”