Friday, October 09, 2015

Record-breaking heat fuels early bushfires in Australia

Record-breaking heat exacerbated by climate change has fueled an early outbreak of bushfires in Australia, the Climate Council said Friday.

Australia is expected to have a long and intense bushfire season this year as a result of record-breaking temperatures and a "Godzilla" El Nino brewing in the Pacific, said Professor Lesley Hughe from the Climate Council, an independent, crowd-funded organization providing information about climate change to the Australian public.

Early season temperature records were set across Victoria, in southern New South Wales and in the Australian Capital Territory. Melbourne experienced its earliest 35 Celsius degree day on record on Tuesday. In Canberra, it was the earliest date in October that the temperature has been hotter than 30 degrees. Monday was the earliest day in October over 35 Celsius degree in Adelaide.

Temperatures were at least 12 degree Celsius above average for most of the region on at least one day, Hughes said.

Globally, 2015 is very likely to surpass last year as the hottest ever recorded with six of the first eight months this year breaking monthly temperature records. July 2015 was the hottest month ever recorded on earth.

Hughes said climate change was driving an increase in bushfire weather and longer fire seasons in southern Australia, with fire weather now frequently extending into October and March.

"Longer fire seasons reduce opportunities for controlled burning and increase pressure on firefighting resources," she said.

Victoria has already had more than 200 bushfires across the state, destroying a number of homes and damaging many more.

"It is clear that our climate is changing more rapidly and with larger and more damaging impacts than expected," said Hughes.

"We need a much stronger target to protect Australians from the worsening impacts of extreme weather," she added.

  Xinhua -

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