Down-Under Drought: Australian Wildfires Linked to Climate Change
Australia’s devastating wildfires during 2019 and 2020 were at least 30 percent more likely to occur because of human-caused climate change, report researchers in a new study published in the online journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences. An intense heat wave was the primary factor in raising the fire risk, says climate scientist Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. The study linked to climate change the extremity of that heat wave, which is 10 times more likely now than it was in 1900. Van Oldenborgh notes that climate simulations tend to underestimate the severity of such heat waves. “We put the lower boundary at 30 percent, but it could well be much, much more,” he says. The year 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest since modern recordkeeping began in the country in 1910.