Australia could face more bushfires over summer as the country’s first La Niña in almost 10 years is declared active.
The weather event occurs when stronger equatorial winds, blowing east to west, cool the Pacific Ocean in the tropical north of Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology confirmed on Tuesday that a La Niña had formed off Australia’s south-east coast with fears it will cause more bushfires.
The result is torrential rain, flooding and cooler temperatures which helps grass grow quicker and increases vegetation that can fuel bushfires.
Fire and Rescue personnel run to move their truck as a bushfire burns next to a major road and homes on the outskirts of the town of Bilpin on December 19, 2019 in Sydney
The La Niña could bring it with it more wet weather causing grass to grow quicker which could then lead to bushfires under the strong summer sun
‘We are one of the few groups who wouldn’t mind a wet spring and summer,’ the NSWRFS tweeted on Tuesday.
‘However increased rain is likely to lead to increased grass growth. This may prove problematic later in the season.’
The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) agreed with the NSWRFS that even normal fire threats are still threats regardless.
‘While these wetter conditions in eastern Australia will help in the short-term, they may lead to an increase in the risk of fast running fires in grasslands and cropping areas over summer,’ they wrote in their September – November hazard notes.
During the last La Nina between 2010 and 2012, the weather bureau said Australia had one of the ‘wettest two-year periods on record’
The Bureau of Meteorology has officially declared the first La Niña event since 2010 to 2012, when floods ravaged Queensland, killing 33 people. (Pictured: Flooding in on the north-eastern side of Roma, 480km west of Brisbane, Thursday, March 4, 2010)
Dr Joelle Griggs, a climate scientist at Australian National University, said that some of the worst La Niña events occurred on Black Saturday in February 2009 and Black Friday in January 1939.
‘It’s the areas spared during our Black Summer that we need to worry about,’ she told news.com.au.
‘Given that 2020 is on track to be among the globe’s warmest on record it is possible that we could see above average temperatures in Australia that may favour summer bushfires.’
The summer bushfires of 2019 and early 2020 killed an estimated three billion animals, excluding fish, across Australia.
During the last La Niña between 2010 and 2012, the weather bureau said Australia had one of the ‘wettest two-year periods on record’.
‘Widespread flooding occurred in many parts of Australia associated with the record rainfalls,’ it said.
The Bureau of Meteorology has officially declared the first La Niña event since 2010 to 2012, when floods ravaged Queensland, killing 33 people.