"This week, dozens of fires have burned across Queensland. More homes have
burned in the state than during the 2019–2020 Black Summer – 57 so far this
year, compared to 49.
The question many are asking is – are these fires normal? Our analysis shows
these fires are weird in at least two ways.
First, many more than usual are burning through the night. This is anomalous,
as nighttime usually brings lower temperatures and more moisture in the air,
slowing or quelling fires. Queensland’s south-east and Western Downs regions
are seeing more than five times more nighttime hotspots than average. And
second, these fires are early in the season – especially the nighttime fires.
Why? Much of the east coast is now exceptionally dry. The plant regrowth from
La Niña rains has dried out and is, in many places, set to burn. It’s still
spring, with a long summer ahead. Where there has been rain, such as in eastern
Victoria, it has sometimes coincided with intense bushfire. That gave rise to
the extremely unusual situation in early October where residents grappled with
fire one day and flood the next.
Put together, it suggests we may be facing a very bad fire season on the east
coast and Tasmania. This is, of course, happening against the drumbeat of
global warming, and the extra spike in heating this year caused by El Niño."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics