Monday, January 14, 2013

First sparks of climate change seen in Australian infernos

The Philippine Star via Xinhua (China): As Australians face another week of record temperatures and 99 bushfires continue to rage across the state of NSW alone, authorities are starting to grapple with a future where even the first sparks of climate change could turn the arid continent into an inferno.

 With temperatures soared into the forties on Saturday - despite the first signs of an unexpected cool change - a total fire ban across the state was extended for a further 24 hours through Saturday in response to the threat. Australia is now a country under climate siege.

The fires stem from the continent's lingering, seasonal droughts. Cruel, dry and arid conditions now permeate even in its humid climatic regions. While the merest stretch of dry years bring the disaster of fire hazards, the summer of 2012/13 has eclipsed most heatwaves on record and witnessed the outbreak of hundreds of fires in virtually every Australian state.

Now in Australia, drought condition conducive to widespread outbreaks of wildfire extends into the Humid Subtropical and even Marine climates. One of the most damaging fires this week occurred in Tasmania, an island state with a climate more usually equated with the highlands of Scotland.   

Climate experts have begun to identify Australia's ongoing disaster as the first, terrible consequences of the future yet to come for the southern continent, and that the wider world must develop planning strategies to adapt to such disasters stemming from an increasingly hotter and dryer earth....

Tasmanian bushfires, January 4, 2013, shot by ToniFish, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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