Climate change is increasing the probability of extreme bushfire conditions, a report by the nation’s leading climate change advisory body has found.
The landmark study by the Climate Council — the independent organisation established after the Abbott government abolished the Climate Commission in September — warns of increasing days of extreme fire danger in future across south-eastern Australia.
A summary of the report, obtained by Fairfax Media, will put further pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who are resisting international criticism and insisting the ferocious bushfires threatening lives and homes have no link to climate change.
“While Australia has always experienced bushfires, climate change is increasing the probability of extreme fire weather days,” the report found.
“Climate change is making hot days hotter, and heatwaves more frequent and severe. Last summer, Australia experienced the hottest summer on record, and now has just had the hottest September on record.
“South-eastern Australia is experiencing a long-term drying trend. In NSW, soil moisture levels have been at record low levels now for a number of months. More intense and frequent hot weather, as well as dry conditions, increases the likelihood of extreme fire weather days.”
The 25-page report, which will be released in full in November, is being written by Professor Lesley Hughes of Macquarie University and Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University.
They have researched 60 pieces of peer-reviewed scientific literature.