Australia fires

Lightning, Tornadoes and Mice: The Science Behind Bushfires

Flickr.com: Bert Knottenbeld

Even though Australia is miles away from Hawaii, there are many commonalities with how wildfires (or bushfires, as they call it) behave on the continent versus Hawaii. Here’s a great article that explains how bushfires work — see if you can draw the parallels with Hawaii. The main difference? Wildfire is part of a natural cycle in Australian ecosystems, unlike in Hawaii where it is an introduced cycle.

From the Source:

“Peak fire conditions occur when there's a period of significant rainfall that causes plants to grow, followed by a hot spell that dries out this fuel. This means the bushfire seasons vary around Australia.”

“Bushfires typically move in a front — a thin line of burning grass or forest that inches forward as new material catches alight.

Radiant heat from the fire front warms the air ahead, drying out fuel, and causing volatile gases inside wood to escape – thus priming new fuel for the approaching fire.”

“Strong winds can sometimes blow burning embers ahead of the fire front, setting alight new patches of fuel in a process known as "spotting".

These patches of fire can then quickly grow and join up, forming one giant blaze, hundreds of metres or even kilometres wide. Such an event, known as "deep flaming", is more difficult for firefighters to control.

The heat and smoke given off from deep flaming can even create "pyrocumulonimbus" clouds that form over a bushfire.”

“'Different species have different life cycles, and some of their aspects of reproduction and regeneration may be linked to fire,' Professor Bradstock said.

An example of such a plant is the acacia, which requires the heat of a bushfire to crack its seed pods so it can germinate.”

Indigenous Fire Methods Could Slash Global Emissions

"NSW Rural Fire Service crews struggle to contain a bushfire around the Wentworth Falls escarpment.   Photo: Wolter Peeters"

"NSW Rural Fire Service crews struggle to contain a bushfire around the Wentworth Falls escarpment. Photo: Wolter Peeters"

We can learn a lot from the past and especially from those who have (and continue to) pass on the knowledge for centuries. 

From the Source:

"The preliminary findings of a $3 million United Nations University research project, largely funded by the federal government, said controlled wildfire methods historically used by Indigenous Australians, and robust methods to measure their benefit, could be used by nations around the world, cutting global emissions from wildfires by as much as a half.

Indigenous people have historically managed the savannah regions of tropical northern Australia through low-intensity 'patchwork burning' early in the dry season, which can help prevent uncontrolled fires later in the season, and so cut emissions.

Wildfires are a significant source of greenhouse gas and their prevalence is expected to increase because of climate change. Each year wildfires burn up to 4.5 million square kilometres globally – an area more than half the size of Australia."

Devastating Australian Brushfires as Seen from Space

From the Source:

"Bushfires are continuing to rage across parts of Australia’s state of Victoria today despite the arrival of milder conditions.

You can see them in the image [on the left] from NASA’s Aqua satellite. Massive plumes of smoke stream from fires burning in the eastern part of the state, as well as just north of the city of Melbourne. Red dots mark spots where the satellite sensor detected fire...

The region has been experiencing hot and windy conditions that have raised the fire risk in Victoria to its highest level since 2009, when fires killed 173 people."

Above: "NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of bushfires blazing in the Australian state of Victoria today. (Source: NASA)" - Discover

Above: "NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of bushfires blazing in the Australian state of Victoria today. (Source: NASA)" - Discover

Half a Decade After Black Saturday, Towns are Still Rebuilding

A very engaging, interactive, and creative webpage detailing the long-term physical and psychological effects of catastrophic wildfires on communities in Australia. Definitely worth spending some time scrolling through!

From the Source:

"TODAY the Herald Sun begins a series of reports on Victoria's bushfire-affected communities five years on from Black Saturday. We speak to survivors who recount their courageous stories, meet a town that is rising from the ashes, and remember those we lost."

"The Herald Sun can reveal that, five years on:
*Doctors and psychologists have reported anecdotal evidence of a rise in suicides, alcohol and drug abuse and addictive behaviour such as gambling by traumatised bushfire survivors.

*Family violence reports increased in traumatised fire communities including Marysville, Flowerdale and Kinglake.

*There is unhappiness in some areas about block buybacks, which weren’t available until the change of government in 2010. Residents such as Phil Fennell in Kinglake West worried about a lack of maintenance on the two empty blocks either side of his house. He was also concerned about any negative impact on his property price.

*Many houses are not complete, as survivors ran out of money before they could apply the finishing touches, and increased fireproofing drove up construction costs.

*20 of the 67 recommendations from the bushfire royal commission have not yet been completed.

*Only three fire refuges have been completed — none in the Kinglake or Marysville regions."

Above: "An aerial of Marysville after the fires. Picture: Mark Smith" - Herald Sun News

Above: "An aerial of Marysville after the fires. Picture: Mark Smith" - Herald Sun News

Brushfires in Australia Deadlier, More Destructive and Worse to Come (VIDEO)

From the Source:

"BUSHFIRES are almost twenty times more deadly and eighty times more destructive than a century ago - and experts warn the devastation will continue to grow as urban sprawl pushes further into bushland. Exclusive analysis by News Corp Australia has revealed the true extent of the devastating toll caused by decades of bushfires.

In today's money, the combined damage caused by bushfires over the past 90 years is almost $7 billion.

And $2.6 billion of this damage was caused in the past 13 years."

Above: "Harmful effect ... Sydney’s CBD is shrouded in a haze of smoke from bushfires in Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow in the Blue Mountains last October. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images"

Above: "Harmful effect ... Sydney’s CBD is shrouded in a haze of smoke from bushfires in Springwood, Winmalee and Lithgow in the Blue Mountains last October. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images"

Australia Bush Fire Crisis Eases, But Firefighters Warn Fight Isn't Over

"Aggressive firefighter and high-risk strategies" proving successful for fighting bush fires in Australia. Cooperation from local communities has also helped the cause. 

From the Source:

"A combination of high winds and temperatures Wednesday had fueled fears the bush fires burning across a 1,000-mile stretch of New South Wales would spread even farther.


But thanks to fire crews' "extraordinary" work, helped out by some unexpected light rain overnight, the worst of the danger has been avoided, said Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.


He praised firefighters for their skill and use of "aggressive and high-risk strategies" that included "backburning" operations -- fires begun by emergency crews to reduce potential tinder for the wildfires to feed on -- and thanked local communities for following instructions to keep them safe." 

Above: New South Wales Rural Fire Service crews mop up an area after stopping a fire in Bilpin in the Blue Mountains of Australia on October 23. 

Above: New South Wales Rural Fire Service crews mop up an area after stopping a fire in Bilpin in the Blue Mountains of Australia on October 23. 

New South Wales Communities Band Together After Bushfire Disasters

From the Source:

"Severe bushfires have destroyed more than 200 properties and damaged 37,000 hectares of land in New South Wales since Thursday.

Whilst dozens of people have lost their homes, many others are reaching out to those affected, as well as emergency services currently working against the blazes.

Charity organisations, local businesses, wildlife rescue teams and members of the community are among those who have shown their support."

Above: "Alecia Newton and Mairead Sheehy busking on Springwood's shopping strip, Macquarie Street on October 20, 2013, to raise money for those who have lost homes in the fire."

Above: "Alecia Newton and Mairead Sheehy busking on Springwood's shopping strip, Macquarie Street on October 20, 2013, to raise money for those who have lost homes in the fire."