Onset of La Niña climate system could lower Australian bushfire risk

Australia is not likely to see the return of historic and widespread bushfires of the 2019 spring over the next three months.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre said this is thanks to wetter conditions in parts of the country that lowers the risk of major fires, an official outlook report has said.

The 2020/21 fire season will be driven by vastly different climate drivers than the previous two fire seasons., a BNHCRC release on Monday stated.

With a La Niña Alert now active, large areas of eastern and northern Australia are expecting wetter than average conditions through spring.

Despite the wetter climate signals, parts of Queensland face above-normal fire potential in the southeast and central coast, extending to the north.

The bushfire outlook for NSW is also looking very different from this time last year.  The fire outlook is ‘normal’ and large parts of NSW have received welcome rain in recent months.

While these wetter conditions in eastern Australia will help in the short-term, they may lead to an increase in the risk of fast running fires in grasslands and cropping areas over summer. These conditions will be monitored closely over the coming months.

In contrast to the wetter conditions for the east, dry conditions persist in Western Australia, with above-normal fire potential continuing to be expected in parts of the north.

Fire is a regular occurrence across Australia, and it is important to remember that areas designated as normal fire potential will still see fires. Normal bushfire risk does not mean there is no risk.

The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook is produced quarterly to be used by fire authorities to make strategic decisions such as resource planning and prescribed fire management to reduce the negative impacts of bushfire.

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