Australia's Chief Scientist

Bushfire risk and climate change

24 October 2013

Bushfires have long been a part of the Australian landscape, as have ‘droughts and flooding rains’.

It is not possible to link any one bushfire to climate change.

However, there is a link between climate change and meteorological conditions conducive to fires starting and spreading rapidly.

What through our history have been irregular but frequent events now have a new and additional variable: climate change.

There is much science to be done in understanding all the risk factors associated with bushfires.  However, the intensity, duration, and frequency of heat extremes are contributors to increased risk. As are the observed long-term changes in rainfall patterns, with many dry regions becoming drier.