What has been happening in Australia?
The Australian summer is at an opposite time to the northern hemisphere. December through to February is the summer ‘Down Under’. This period can bring high temperatures, very little water and wildfires. The 2019/2020 fire season has seen abnormally high temperatures, searing heat and vast wildfires which are still raging out of control. The key facts which make this natural event so devastating are:
28 people have been killed
2,000 homes have been lost
An estimated 1 billion animals have been lost
One third of the entire koala population has perished
Penrith, a Sydney suburb, was ‘the hottest place on earth’ at 41.9°C on 4 January 2020
2019 was Australia’s hottest year on record, 1.5°C above the long-term 1961-1990 average
Australia had its driest ever year in 2019, with rainfall being 40% lower than the average recorded from 1900 to 2019
New South Wales and Victoria have been the worst affected states
The severity of the wildfires are a consequence of global warming with ‘climatic extremes’ now being widely forecast around the world
The extract below explains the relevance of this resource to the AQA A level specification sub-unit 22.214.171.124, Fires in Nature.
Conditions favouring intense wildfires: vegetation type, fuel characteristics, climate and recent weather and fire behaviour. Causes of fires: natural and human agency. Impacts: primary/secondary, environmental, social, economic and political. Short and long-term responses; risk management designed to reduce the impacts of the hazard through preparedness, mitigation, prevention and adaptation. Impact and human responses as evidenced by a recent wildfire event.
Topic 6, Enquiry question 1 from the Edexcel A Level specification includes reference to carbon cycle fluxes, which can be linked to bushfires, among other factors.