Hot and dry Australia could join the ranks of 'climate refugees'

Eloise Marshall
January 15, 2020

The World Meteorological Organization says the global temperature increase could hit 3-5 C this century - more than three times limits agreed in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement - if nothing is done to stop rising emissions.

"An huge ash cloud covers Australia as we fly toward the sunset", tweeted European Space Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano on Monday.

The Victoria state capital of Melbourne bore the brunt on Wednesday of smoke haze that satellites operated by USA space agency NASA scientists have tracked circumnavigating the globe.

Studying smoke plumes from late December, the space agency said that the smoke had traveled "halfway across Earth" and affected air quality in other countries.

"The world is warmer because of global warming, so when you get hot and dry conditions (naturally), they're even hotter because of (climate change)".

The agency added that there were noticeable impacts on Austalia's neighbour. While they have had small bush fires every season, due to record breaking temperatures and severe drought, the outcome of this season's fires are devastating. "Let's move on and get over this", Ms Andrews said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

In light of the Australian fires, researchers from the University of East Anglia, Met Office Hadley Centre, University of Exeter and Imperial College London have conducted a Rapid Response Review of 57 peer-reviewed papers published since the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report in 2013.

"Let's accept that the climate has changed, the climate is changing and we need to look at what we're going to do about that".

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Dr Jones said the review focused chiefly on the effects of climate change on fire weather, rather than fire counts or burned area.

They have been driven by record-breaking hot and dry conditions in many areas of the country, creating the flawless environment for the fires to spread.

Think-tank the Australia Institute on Wednesday published a survey of more than 1000 people, finding that nearly half are now "very concerned" about climate change compared to less than 40 per cent six months ago.

"Limiting global warming to well below 2°C would help avoid further increases in the risk of extreme fire weather".

"It's much overdue for the government to seriously engage on climate change adaptation", said Professor Frank Jotzo of the Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy.

Based on the review, the scientists said fire weather seasons have lengthened in about a quarter of the Earth's vegetated surface, leading to about a 20 per cent increase in global mean length of the fire weather season.

Cool weather over recent days has already given some respite for exhausted firefighters spread out across vast swathes of the country, with some of the biggest blazes now brought under control.

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