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Mon May 25, 2020, 08:43 AM

Oz Authorities Got Catastrophic Fire Forecasts 6 Months In Advance; 30-Year Old Models Confirmed

The fires that caused 33 deaths, destroyed more than 3,000 homes, and burned more than 10m hectares of bushland were accurately predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology and in line with predictions Australia’s peak scientific body laid down 30 years ago. And according to evidence given in the first day of public hearings in the royal commission into national natural disaster arrangements on Monday, fires of that scale will occur with greater frequency as the climate continues to heat.

“This isn’t a one-off event that we’re looking at here,” the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate monitoring, Dr Karl Braganza, told the hearing. “Really since the Canberra 2003 fires, every jurisdiction in Australia has seen some really significant fire events that have challenged what we do to respond to them and have really challenged what we thought fire weather looked like preceding this period.”


Dr Helen Cleugh, a senior principal research scientist with the CSIRO, said that the frequency of extreme El Niño, La Niña and Indian Ocean dipole events under global heating meant Australia would experience more extreme weather events in future, and that those events would not be able to be mitigated, or their severity predicted, by looking at what had occurred in the past.

“Climate change means that the past is no longer a guide to future climate-related impacts and risks,” she said. Cleugh said modelling conducted by the CSIRO in 1992 was “very consistent” with the changes in climate that had occurred in the 28 years since. “The key point I want to make here is that these climate projections are credible and salient, and most importantly they are still current in 2020,” she said.



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