There is a higher than normal bush fire risk this summer according to a report released by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Tuesday. A lack of rainfall, a longterm deficit in the soil moisture and high fuel loads have led to an above normal fire potential this summer in the South West, the official forecast of the 2015-16 bushfire season states.
There is a greater than 80% chance of warmer temperatures than average September-November due to a warmer Indian Ocean. However this is tempered by the expectation of a greater than 65% chance of more rain than average during the same time period.
The report states “The 2015-16 southern fire season comes against a backdrop of long-term drying, record warmth in the Indian Ocean and
the continued development of a major El Nino event in the Pacific. Across southern Australia a pattern of drier southern wet seasons (April to October) has continued for more than 10 years leaving substantial rainfall deficits. The below average rainfall has been accompanied by above average temperatures, with the past decade being the warmest on record in many areas. The pattern of long-term below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures means that conditions such as soil moisture and fuels are prone to rapid drying with the approach of summer.”
Regarding the long term trends, the government funded research centre said they “will challenge the limited resources of the fire and land management agencies and have created the situation where each fire season is likely to be more demanding than the last, both in economic and human costs.”
The report is available here: 2015-16 Bush Fire Forecast.
The climate outlook will be updated by the Bureau of Meteorology around the end of each month.