By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(German text translated/edited by P Gosselin)
In the Australian state of Victoria, 50,000 km² of land have burned and 12 people and 1 million sheep and thousands of heads of cattle lost their lives. The regions hit by fire were near Portland, Westernport and in the Plenty Ranges, as well as the Wimmera and Dandenong districts. The burned regions extended over a quarter of the state. Conditions for the fires were made favorable by the long-lasting drought period, which changed the landscape into a tinderbox. Finally the fire was exacerbated by strong winds, which carried off a glowing ember from a campfire and ignited the adjacent grassy region.
What role did climate change play in the fire disaster? The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and other alarmists remained surprisingly moot here. Normally climate alarmists rush to the microphones and claim that although such single events are not easily linked to climate change, the probability is in any case is much higher. Loaded dice.
Proponents of a climate catastrophe kept silent in the case of these Victoria fires because they had not been born yet.
The described above fires occurred in February, 1851 and are known as the ‘Black Thursday Bushfires‘.
There have always been bushfires in Australia. For example at the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century in New South Wales. Apparently that fact was not even known by the former General Secretary of the Climate Framework Convention of the United Nations (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, who in 2013 described in knee-jerk fashion that the fires in New South Wales (NSW) were a consequence of climate change. A classic gaffe – one that should never happen for someone occupying such a position.
The provincial government defended itself against such misinterpretations. The German business daily Handelsbatt wrote on October 25, 2013:
The new conservative government accuses environmental protection activists are exploiting the fires to oppose the planned repeal of of the CO2-tax. ‘Some people are trying to profit from all the tragedy and suffering of this week,’ said Environment Minister Greg Hunt. By the way, the CSIRO research authority just explained that there have been bushfires in Australia for millions of years.”
If one counts the damage from bushfires in NSW compared to the number of homes, then there has been no recognizable trend over the past 90 years. In The Conversation, John McAneney presented the facts. Foremost he sees deficits with regards to land-use planning, which made the extent of the fire damage possible.
In July 2017 a study by Nick Earl und Ian Simmonds appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research. The authors analyzed the Australian bushfire statistics from 2001-2015 and found a reduction in fires. Yet, they did find a large temporal and spatial variability which in part was controlled by ocean cycles such as the El Nino or the Indian Ocean Dipole. Abstract:
Variability, trends, and drivers of regional fluctuations in Australian fire activity
Throughout the world fire regimes are determined by climate, vegetation, and anthropogenic factors, and they have great spatial and temporal variability. The availability of high-quality satellite data has revolutionized fire monitoring, allowing for a more consistent and comprehensive evaluation of temporal and spatial patterns. Here we utilize a satellite based “active fire” (AF) product to statistically analyze 2001–2015 variability and trends in Australian fire activity and link this to precipitation and large-scale atmospheric structures (namely, the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)) known to have potential for predicting fire activity in different regions. It is found that Australian fire activity is decreasing (during summer (December–February)) or stable, with high temporal and spatial variability. Eastern New South Wales (NSW) has the strongest decreasing trend (to the 1% confidence level), especially during the winter (JJA) season. Other significantly decreasing areas are Victoria/NSW, Tasmania, and South-east Queensland. These decreasing fire regions are relatively highly populated, so we suggest that the declining trends are due to improved fire management, reducing the size and duration of bush fires. Almost half of all Australian AFs occur during spring (September–November). We show that there is considerable potential throughout Australia for a skillful forecast for future season fire activity based on current and previous precipitation activity, ENSO phase, and to a lesser degree, the IOD phase. This is highly variable, depending on location, e.g., the IOD phase is for more indicative of fire activity in southwest Western Australia than for Queensland.”