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Carolina Luiz

INMAG OCT 17_page layouts 5/10/2017 8:07 pm Page 25

“The dry state of vegetation means that warm, windy conditions are likely to see more elevated fire risk than is normal for the time of year.”

Bushfire potential 2017 Above normal Normal

In the field: Marta yebra studying grass fires

A fiery summer looms AN UNUSUALLy WARM WINTER, COMBINED WITH below-average rainfall, has hastened an earlierthan-usual start to Australia’s bushfire season. Blazes broke out in parts of New South Wales and Queensland in September as temperatures soared to near-record levels, and it could get worse even before summer arrives. The prognosis from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre is grim. Its widely followed Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook report, released last month, indicates elevated fire risks. “The below average rainfall has seen poor vegetation growth for most of southern Australia,” the report says. “Further north, the dry conditions now mean that vegetation is already dry with very low greenness evident in satellite data. The dry state of vegetation means that warm, windy conditions are likely to see more elevated fire risk than is normal for the time of year.” Although parts of southwestern Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria did receive better rainfall in August, it wasn’t enough to make up for the dry conditions seen in the previous months. Also, NSW and some areas in

Queensland stayed exceptionally dry. “Below average rainfall in 2017 adds to much longer-term drying trends that are affecting parts of southern Australia during the cool season,” the report says. “The combination of short and long-term rainfall deficits serves to increase the fire risk in the coming spring and summer seasons.” NSW has higher than normal fire potential for eastern forested areas, while grassland areas have normal fire potential due to reduced fuel loads. Victoria and Tasmania may have an early start to the fire season, while southeast Queensland could pay the price for high winter temperatures. Dry vegetation in the ACT means abovenormal bushfire potential and large parts of SA are similarly affected. In an earlier report on northern Australia the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre said damaged vegetation caused by Cyclone Debbie and Marcia in 2015 has exposed parts of Queensland to higher fire risk. Parts of the Ord Victoria Plain and Dampierland regions of the Kimberley in northern WA also face an above-normal fire risk.

insuranceNEWS

October/November 2017

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