Search

Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

Tag

bushfires

Fires in the VIC High Country

There are a number of fires in the Victorian high country.

These include:

  • Three bushfires ignited by lightning strikes on Wednesday afternoon North west of Dargo are not yet under control.
  • A 13 ha bushfire 3.3km South West of the Mt Buller Village at Little Mt Buller, which is still not yet under control.

If you’re heading to any of these areas, please check the Emergency Victoria website first to ensure it’s safe to visit.

[IMAGE: this is an old image of a previous fire near Dargo, from the Gippsland Times].

TAS fire grows to 10,000 ha. ‘There’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.

A fire is burning out of control in the south west of Tasmania. It started as a result of a lightning strike on December 27. It is being reported that it has already grown to 10,000 hectares and currently considered ‘out of control’ and hence fire services are unable to contain it. The ABC reports that 150 members of the Tasmanian Fire Service are currently fighting it but ‘there’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.

It threatens iconic areas like Lake Rhona and is moving towards Mt Field National Park and the towns of Maydena, Tyenna and National Park. A westerly change which is passing through the state could change direction of the fire so check the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) website for details if you’re in the area (see below for all links).

Header image of the fire comes from http://satview.bom.gov.au/

Continue reading “TAS fire grows to 10,000 ha. ‘There’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.”

BOM/ CSIRO state of the climate report – (another) wake up call

We know that climate change is already impacting on the mountains and ecosystems that we love. Tree and plant species are threatened, fire seasons are becoming longer and more intense, and winter snow is in long term decline.

There are two key take home messages from the data that is available:

  • Climate change is impacting now and will get worse during our lifetime,
  • Action now to radically reduce emissions will greatly reduce impacts in the future.

To add to the body of knowledge we already have, the recently released Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s state of the climate report points to a long-term increase in the frequency of extreme heat events, fire weather and drought in coming years.

Continue reading “BOM/ CSIRO state of the climate report – (another) wake up call”

‘Evidence of the impact of climate change on our country’s distinct flora and fauna is beginning to emerge’

Evidence about the impact of climate change on our country’s distinct flora and fauna is beginning to emerge. This is not ‘new’ news, this information is already widely available if you care to look for it. What is astonishing is that this growing body of information about the impacts of climate change on the land where we live doesn’t seem to compel more people to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some recent examples of how climate change enhanced fire seasons are impacting on mountain environments:

In Tasmania, research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000 and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

As temperatures rise and the world’s climate rapidly changes, many plants and animals may not be able to relocate fast enough on their own, and habitats and species could be lost. In Australia warmer temperatures are expected to increase the length and severity of bushfire seasons, which will also cause changes in the distribution of many mountain species.

For instance, increased fire frequency may lead to the loss of alpine ash forests, unless there is human intervention aimed at keeping the species viable in the wild.

Now, a new article from Professor Ary Hoffmann, Nicholas Bell and Dr James Camac, at the University of Melbourne, looking at how we monitor the impacts of climate change on Australia’s terrestrial ecosystems has additional concerning news.

Continue reading “‘Evidence of the impact of climate change on our country’s distinct flora and fauna is beginning to emerge’”

“Something changed about 2000″. TAS forests threatened by ‘catastrophic’ bushfires

Widespread wildfires in early 2016 caused devastating damage across large areas of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, including significant sections of vegetation which is not fire adapted, such as Pencil Pine forests.

At the time, and in follow up investigations, it became clear that increased fire risk due to climate change posed an existential threat to these vegetation types. Now additional research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000 and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

Continue reading ““Something changed about 2000″. TAS forests threatened by ‘catastrophic’ bushfires”

‘Assisted migration’ for species under threat from climate change?

As temperatures rise and the world’s climate rapidly changes, many plants and animals may not be able to relocate fast enough on their own, and habitats and species could be lost. In Australia warmer temperatures are expected to increase the length and severity of bushfire seasons, which will also cause changes in the distribution of many mountain species.

For instance, increased fire frequency may lead to the loss of alpine ash forests, unless there is human intervention.

Continue reading “‘Assisted migration’ for species under threat from climate change?”

‘Ecosystem collapse’ threatens Alpine Ash and Pencil Pines

The news is really scary at present. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Climate change has helped melt nearly a fifth of Colombia’s mountaintop glacier cover in just seven years
  • As a record-breaking heat wave scorches Sweden, dozens of wildfires are raging in parts of the country. At least 11 fires within the Arctic Circle. As one researcher put it: “This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires,”
  • Meanwhile many places in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest temperatures ever recorded.

Closer to home, research recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change describes a series of ‘sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts’ that have occurred recently across Australia. These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

While coverage of this research has tended to focus on the impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, other examples – about Gondwanic forests in Tasmania and Alpine Ash forests in the Australian Alps – should be a wake up call for people concerned about mountain environments.

Continue reading “‘Ecosystem collapse’ threatens Alpine Ash and Pencil Pines”

Older forests experience ‘smaller and less severe’ fires

A new study in the journal Austral Ecology provides the most comprehensive analysis ever performed of the fire history of forests in the Australian Alps. This is a significant piece of work because it says that unburnt forests are less fire prone than those that have been recently burnt.

This has implications for how we manage these forests and woodlands. The current widely held assumption is that by reducing fuel loads, fire reduces the flammability of most eucalypt-based forests.

Continue reading “Older forests experience ‘smaller and less severe’ fires”

Will we recognise the future?

Every time I drive up the hill from Harrietville to Mt Hotham, I feel a strange mix of joy and sadness. Its always good to get back into the mountains. But those burnt out alpine ash forests break my heart.

People will often say ‘fire has always been part of the landscape’. True. But that misses the point that fire intensity and frequency is already increasing as we lurch into the climate change influenced future. In my lifetime it has already transformed many of the landscapes I know and love best. What will the coming decades bring?

Continue reading “Will we recognise the future?”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑