Articles on Fire

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Firefighters battle a bushfire close to homes in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in October this year. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Climate Council’s Code Red bushfire warning

Australians have always had to live with bushfires - but climate change is driving that fire danger even higher. And we’re not talking about a distant threat to future generations. According to real observations…
Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? AAP/Dan Himbrechts

What firefighters say about climate change

You do not find many climate change sceptics on the end of [fire] hoses anymore… They are dealing with increasing numbers of fires, increasing rainfall events, increasing storm events. – A senior Victorian…
Smoke from deliberately lit forest fires is destroying the health of Southeast Asians, and looks set to be a yearly event. EPA/Amriyadi Bahar

Southeast Asian smoke warns of never-ending fires

Look at satellite images from Southeast Asia this week and you will see large areas of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore blanketed by dense plumes of smoke. These smoke plumes have severely degraded ground-level…
Giant eucalypts like this swamp gum (Eucalyptus regnans) tower over an understory of rainforest plants, and are dependent on fire for their survival. Flickr/freelancing god

We need to think about fire in Tasmania’s forests

Forest activist Miranda Gibson’s 15-month stay up a giant eucalypt has been interrupted by bushfire. Meanwhile Tasmania’s forestry peace deal, now being considered in the state’s upper house, has drawn…
An early season burn in Arnhem Land. Low intensity fires decrease greenhouse emissions and increase carbon stored in trees. Brett Murphy.

Savanna burning: carbon pays for conservation in northern Australia

Fire and biodiversity have a complex relationship in northern Australia. Tim Flannery and others blame the current northern biodiversity crisis, at least in part, on changed fire regimes. Improving fire…
Victoria’s alpine forest is burning more often, changing the landscape and reducing its ability to store carbon. AAP Image/Australian Workers Union

Ash to ashes – what could the 2013 fires mean for the future of our forests?

In the high country of Victoria, firefighters are presently battling a large bushfire that is moving through the forests south of Harrietville and past the second highest mountain in Victoria, Mt. Feathertop…
It will take social change to prevent people deliberately lighting bushfires. AAP Image/NSW Rural Fire Service, Barry Ballard

Bushfire arson: prevention is the cure

At this time of year, each year - the bushfire season - the complex nature of human behaviour hits home. Bushfires are a terrible event. The environmental destruction, the loss of property and sometimes…
An early dry season fire in Kakadu National Park – are these fires burning up our mammals? Clay Trauernicht

Scientists and national park managers are failing northern Australia’s vanishing mammals

Conservationists should take heart that Australia is finally waking up to the biodiversity crisis in Australia’s north. It is an urgent problem: right now, a diverse assortment of our small mammals – bandicoots…
Researchers and firefighters have long speculated that fire tornadoes might exist. Now we know they do. Dig/AAP

Turn and burn: the strange world of fire tornadoes

We’ve all seen footage of out-of-control bushfires sweeping the Australian landscape, burning out hectares of native forest in their wake. But you might not have heard of a fire tornado, let alone seen…
Could charcoal be our climate saviour? Oli R/Flickr

The charcoal challenges: fire and climate dynamics

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is co-ordinating a new venture to tackle short-lived global warming agents such as black carbon. Should we be paying more attention to black carbon? Yes…
We know Aboriginal fires affected Australian vegetation, but now we have evidence they altered the monsoon too. ciamabue/Flickr

How Aboriginal burning changed Australia’s climate

For thousands of years, Aboriginal Australians burned forests to promote grasslands for hunting and other purposes. Recent research suggests that these burning practices also affected the timing and intensity…
Indigenous Australians systematically burnt grasslands to reduce fuel and stop fires raging out of control. Flickr/pietroizzo

The biggest estate on earth: how Aborigines made Australia

Aboriginal people worked hard to make plants and animals abundant, convenient and predictable. By distributing plants and associating them in mosaics, then using these to lure and locate animals, Aborigines…
When it comes to weather, scientists and the media have different understandings of risk. Ameel Khan

Spinning uncertainty? The IPCC extreme weather report and the media

The “reasonable person” would agree that disaster risk is best avoided. Under a changing climate, how exposed people are to risk and how socially and physically vulnerable they are affects how often disasters…

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