The start of the new decade was quite devastating for Australia as the country has witnessed the worst wildfires in decades. More than 15 million acres of area in the country was burned because of massive bushfire. The fires spread so rapidly that the government declared a state of emergency in November. Al least 2000 homes were destroyed, 27 people were injured, and an estimated half a billion animals lost their lives.
State authorities are struggling to control the massive blazes even with firefighting assistance from other countries. However, on Sunday, the rain passed over southeastern Australia, giving a little moment of relief. But, according to a NASA statement, the fires may gain their strength quickly as the weather forecast predicted hot and dry weather by the end of the week. Here are some facts that everyone must know about Australia’s massive fire breakout.
Amid Exceptional Heatwave the Fire Broke Out
When the fire erupted, Australia’s weather recorded the hottest and driest year ever. So, it is evident that the climate condition provided ample fuel for the flames to grow and spread. The southeast region of the country was affected the most. Apart from the high temperature, the brisk wind was also responsible for spreading the blazes increasing the fire risks.
Climate Change is Another Big Reason
The scientists are considering the dry weather, high temperatures as a result of climate change. This summer, Australia is facing severe drought, and so there is less moisture evaporating in the heat. “The reality is, this is a function of climate change — this extreme heat, these extreme conditions that are so volatile and are producing the types of intensity and early season burning that we do not normally see in Australia,” said Crystal Kolden, an associate professor of fire science at the University of Idaho.
Australia’s Fire Season Getting Longer
Wildfires are frequent and a natural part of the ecosystem in Australia. The regular fires help the plants and animals to germinate, cycle nutrients, and pure decay. But the matter of concern is the climate is getting hotter due to human activities leading to producing extra heat. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s 2018 State of the Climate report, “Australia’s climate has warmed by just over 1° C since 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.” If the situation continues, scientists have warned about more extreme wildfires in Australia in the future.
Millions of Plants and Animals are in Danger
Being one of the most significant biodiversity hotspots in the world, it is the shelter of millions of trees and animals. Many wild animals and some farm animals have been killed directly by the flames. Heartbreaking images of burned kangaroos and koalas and several other dead animals are widely getting circulated on social media over the past few weeks. The consequence may run for a longer time as many animals that survive the flames may die due to lack of food, water, and shelter.
Apart from all these points, there is a significant health threat from smoke that may cause chronic heart disease and illness. The tiny particles present in the smoke can quickly enter into the bloodstream. Thousands of people are suffering. More than 2000 firefighting volunteers are regularly fighting to control the blazes. January and February are the peak summertime in Australia, and the officials have warned that the country will be under threat from fires for months.