Bushfires in Australia : an Unprecedented Nightmare

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Adapted in english by Valérie Harnois


For a few months now, the south of Australia has been facing wildfires that destroy everything on their paths. Between September 2019 and January 11, 2020, 28 people have died in those fires and many more have gone missing. According to a study by the University of Sydney, 480 million animals have also perished in these fires. Amongst those animals are kangaroos, koalas and many reptiles. To have a better idea of the breadth of this disaster, many sources refer to the area affected by wildfires as being the size of Ireland (70 274 km²). For a representation that is closer to home, imagine a territory as big as the province of New Brunswick (72 908 km²) being wiped off the map and gone in flames. On top of that, more than 100 000 people have been evacuated. The temperatures hovering around 40°C, combined with violent winds, makes it extremely difficult for the thousands of firefighters on site who try to put out the fires.

Source: BBC

earth australia brush fires smoke new zealand himawari 8 satellite image photo january 2 2020 full_disk_ahi_true_color_20200102022000 2x1 2

Source : RAMMB/CIRA/CSU; Business Insider

The picture above, taken from a Japanese satellite, clearly shows the magnitude of the smoke from the bushfires and demonstrates that it goes way beyond Australia. The weather agencies of Chile and Argentina announced, on January 6, 2020, that smoke from the Australian fires had been spotted in the sky of both countries, which are located 12 000 km away from Australia. This event is clearly happening on a planetary scale and has global ramifications.

To better grasp the tragedy Australia is facing, you may watch this video with students: 

Source : YouTube

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "australia fires 3d map"

Source : BigThink.com

Students may have seen the image above on social media. It supposedly shows the breadth of the fires in Australia. This article debunks some of the false or misleading information spread on the Web on this topic, such as the picture above.

The following video explains the origins and intentions behind this image.


« In my experience […], in some places you see intense fires over quite large areas maybe for a week or a few weeks, but to see them for four months in one particular place … it is quite surprising. »

« We only have 17 years of data, but in that context then, yeah, absolutely, it’s unprecedented. »

-Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

« What is happening in Australia is a harbinger for other countries — a taste of what our future will look like if we don’t act now. »

« What the future holds is much worse in the absence of concerted action on climate. »

– Michael Mann, renown climatologist, professor of atmospheric sciences at Penn State University

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/australia-bushfires-1.5414325 

Ton défi

Researchers are analyzing whether the fires in Australia are a consequence of climate change and global warming. Do a web search for this and find arguments (facts) that testify to the links between global warming and forest fires in Australia.


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