Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Archive for October 22nd, 2013

Backburning

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Lucy J Evans – ‘I might explain myself a little further. My family home is in the fire affected area and my parents are currently awaiting bad winds on Wednesday which could possibly blow embers into their property, even though the fire has already burned its way completely around them. My dad was a member of the RFS for 18 years and I have grown up with a deep respect for fire and all men and women who risk their lives. I’ve experienced first hand what it is like to leave your home, not knowing if you’ll return again. I’ve also witnessed the tremendous work they do whether it be back burning or trying to contain a fire front. Tony Abbott rolled on into Bilpin, sat around and ate, got some happy snaps (despite this being a terribly sad situation), watched some people complete a back burn operation, drove a fire truck, got his moment of glory and then left. Not only is it completely irresponsible of him to put himself at risk (seen as though he somehow managed to get the top job), he also managed to exploit this situation to the tenth degree.’

This came from a tweet and unfortunately the link did not take and I no longer have it, but the original source was Facebook.

Meanwhile, the PM has been doing more backburning – this time on twenty-five years of research: Graham Readfearn at The Guardian (updated Oct 23, 2:30 pm EAST)

Written by Roger Jones

October 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Australia, Fires, Politics, Risk

Tagged with ,

Fire and climate change: don’t expect a smooth ride

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By Roger Jones, Victoria University (reproduced from The Conversation)

With fires still burning across New South Wales, it’s time to have a look at the role climate change might have played. Are the conditions we’re seeing natural variation, or part of a long term trend?

In fact, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Has bushfire risk increased due to climate change?

In research I did with colleagues earlier this year we looked at the Fire Danger Index calculated by the Bureau of Meteorology, and compared how it changed compared to temperature over time in Victoria.

South-east Australia saw a temperature change of about 0.8C when we compared temperatures before 1996 and after 1997. We know that it got drier after 1997 too.

We then compared this data to the Forest Fire Danger Index, to see if it showed the same pattern. We analysed fire data from nine stations in Victoria and did a non-linear analysis.

We found that fire danger in Victoria increased by over a third after 1996, compared to 1972-1996. The current level of fire danger is equivalent to the worst case projected for 2050, from an earlier analysis for the Climate Institute.

While it’s impossible to say categorically that the situation is the same in NSW, we know that these changes are generally applicable across south-east Australia. So it’s likely to be a similar case: fire and climate change are linked. Read the rest of this entry »