Nature on bushfire probability in SE Oz
Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-10
I’ve avoided analysis of recent tragic bushfires and climate change, but when the Nature website does it… well, who is going to argue with the most prestigious scientific publishing group in the world? (Apart from Marohasy and friends, that is.)
"Australian Bushfires Rage" (doi:10.1038/news.2009.89) has the following:
Nature asks if savage blazes such as these will get more frequent in a warming world, and looks at the environmental fallout from the disaster.
Could climate change be responsible for the wildfire, or the weather that has sustained it?… In southeast Australia, the frequency of very high and extreme fire danger days is likely to rise by 4–25% by 2020 and by 15–70% by 2050, according to the IPCC’s report. [2007 report]
Do wildfires like this add a significant load of CO2 to the atmosphere? Disastrous though they are, the Australian bushfires are not large enough to leave a signal on global atmospheric CO2 levels. The only known fire events in recent decades that apparently did release substantial amounts of CO2 were the Indonesian peat fires in 1997–98, and the vast Siberian forest fires of 2003.
Rudd and Wong, according the IPCC, have the opportunity to mitigate against this threat of up to a 70% increase in such fires within the timeframe of their plans.
The only silver-lining on the smoke clouds over Victoria is that it might put pressure on the politicians. Don’t let the bushfire victims die in vain.