The Australia fires have killed at least 27 people and as many as one billion animals. The bushfires arrived late last year after what has been dubbed an exceptionally hot and dry 2019.
Last year Australia suffered its hottest year on record, with average temperatures about 1.5C degrees above the 1961 to 1990 average.
Climate experts fear rising temperatures and drought have turned the country into a tinderbox waiting to be sparked.
Climatologist Professor Joanna Wibig from the University of Łódź in Poland told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) climate change enabled wildfires to more easily spread in the world’s hottest regions.
Professor Wibig said: “Climate change definitely contributes to fires spreading more easily, in Australia, but also in California, for example.
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“Fires have always broken out there but they are now more dangerous – they spread more easily during drought and they are harder to put out.
“Along with climate change, regions where rainfall is decreasing or temperatures are clearly rising will become more exposed to fires.”
Scorching heat causes water to evaporate more quickly, which in turn, makes trees and plants drier and more susceptible to flames.
According to Professor Wibig, the trees and plants effectively turn into fuel for the bushfires to spread.
In those parts of the country where the fuel is still wet, the fires have a harder time spreading.
Professor Wibig said: “In Australia due to climate change, not only is it becoming a lot warmer but also a lot drier.
Climate change definitely contributes to fires spreading more easily
Professor Joanna Wibig, University of Łódź
“Now that the temperatures are really high and there has been no rainfall for a while, the availability of fuel is huge.
“Once the fire started it is hard to put a stop to it.”
The exact role climate change has played in the spread of Australia’s fires has been debated by both sides of the argument.
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Although Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison accepted climate change was a factor in the fires, he has argued it only forms part of a bigger picture.
Mr Morrison has, however, committed to cutting Australia’s carbon emissions by 2030.
He said: “We’re going to do it without a carbon tax, without putting up electricity prices, without shutting down traditional industries upon which regional Australians depend for their very livelihood. That’s what I took to the Australian people.”
The announcement came after the Australian fires scorched some 10 million hectares of land and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.
Some environmentalists have even the loss of wildlife in the fires could be in the trillions.
Professor Wibig said: “We need to work on the amount of greenhouse gases we are sending into the atmosphere.
“This is not only about limiting carbon dioxide emissions but also about other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrogen.”
The climatologist added: “We will be facing these problems more frequently.”
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