Extremely dangerous fire weather will become increasingly prominent in Australia and the Mediterranean, an Australian study has found.
The study, published by the University of Tasmania (UTAS) on Tuesday, assessed 23 million landscape fires globally between 2002 and 2013 and focused on 478 of the most extreme wildfire events.
“Extreme fire events are a global and natural phenomenon, particularly in forested areas that have pronounced dry seasons,” David Bowman, an Environmental Change Biology professor at UTAS, said in a statement.
“With the exception of land clearance, the research found that extremely intense fires are associated with anomalous weather – such as droughts, winds, or in desert regions, following particularly wet seasons.”
Using climate change modelling to determine likely effects of global warming, researchers established that more extreme fires were likely on Australia’s east coast and the entire Mediterranean region including France, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Portugal.
“The projections suggest an increase in the days conducive to extreme wildfire events by 20 to 50 percent in these disaster-prone landscapes, with sharper increases in the subtropical Southern Hemisphere, and the European Mediterranean Basin,” Bowman said.
The research was published on Tuesday in prestigious scientific journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
The research comes near the anniversaries of the Black Tuesday and Black Saturday bushfires which ravaged Tasmania and Victoria respectively in 1967 and 2009, killing a combined 235 people.