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As bushfire and holiday seasons converge, it may be time to say goodbye to the typical Australian summer holiday


Bowman, D, As bushfire and holiday seasons converge, it may be time to say goodbye to the typical Australian summer holiday, The Conversation, The Conversation Media Group Ltd, Australia, 5 January 2020 (2020) [Newspaper Article]

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For 40 years I have studied bushfires in Australia. It has been my lifeís work to try to better understand Australian landscapes and the interaction of humans and landscape fire.

As we contemplate a future where catastrophes like the one currently engulfing Australia become increasingly frequent, thereís an idea to which I keep returning: maybe itís time to say goodbye to the typical summer Australian holiday.

Perhaps itís time to rearrange Australian calendar and reschedule the peak holiday period to March or April, instead of December and January.

Itís easy to dismiss this idea as stupid but thatís the nature of adaptation. Things that once seemed absurd will now need serious consideration.

Whatís truly absurd is the business-as-usual approach that sees thousands of holidaymakers heading directly into forests and national parks right in the middle of peak bushfire season.

All of the indications are that we are galloping into changing fire regimes. We can certainly see that with whatís occurred in the Australian alps (the snow country in southeastern Australia, near Mount Kosciuszko). There were incredibly intense fires there around the early 2000s and now those areas are re-burning.

To me, as a fire researcher, thatís an astonishing thought.

Yes, there have been very large fires in the past but they werenít followed up with yet more very large fires a mere 15 years later. Normally, youíd be expecting a gap of 50 or 100 years. So the ecology is telling us that we are seeing the intervals between the fires shrinking. That is a really big warning sign.

And this increasingly frequent fire activity is completely consistent with what climate modelling was suggesting. The whole system is moving to a world that is hotter, drier, and with more frequent fire activity. Itís what was forecast and itís what is now happening.

Item Details

Item Type:Newspaper Article
Keywords:bushfire, holiday season, climate change
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Effects of climate change on Australia (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Bowman, D (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:137136
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2020-02-03
Last Modified:2020-02-03
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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