Fires are common in northern Australia. Winters are dry. A lightning strike or human error can start a fire. Usually, these fires are small, and firefighters can put them out. This year is different, though. Large fires have burned in Australia since late July 2019.
These fires are especially bad for several reasons. Experts also think that climate change has made weather conditions worse for preventing fires. First, the country is in the middle of a drought, [an extended period with no rain] making conditions very dry. The temperatures are high, and strong winds spread the fires.
Fires have burned in every state in Australia, tearing through the bushland, the woods, and national parks. The smoke makes it hard to breathe. Some of the fires are small and easier to put out. But others are so large they can be seen from space. Many people across Australia have lost their homes. Ecologists believe that it’s possible that one billion animals have died in the flames. Not only have animals died, but their habitats have been destroyed.
Even with help from other countries, the fires have raged on. No one knows when the fires will end. In the past weeks, rains have poured on Australia. This sounds like great news. But the land is so dry now, people are worried about flash floods.
What Do You Think? Why are the fires in Australia worse this year than in other years? What do you think people could do to make these fires less deadly?
Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.