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Australia Fire

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    8th Jan, 2020

Wild bushfires have been ravaging Australia for several weeks now. These fires have been especially severe in the New South Wales and Victoria.

Issue

Context

Wild bushfires have been ravaging Australia for several weeks now. These fires have been especially severe in the New South Wales and Victoria.

Background

  • The State declared a week-long state of emergency in response to the escalating disaster.
  • 916 homes have been destroyed this season, 363 more have been damaged.
  • Both New South Wales and Victoria have given fire fighting authorities the power to forcibly relocate people.
  • Bushfires in Australia impact extensive areas and cause property damage and loss of human life.
  • Some of Australia's native flora has evolved to rely on bushfires as a means of reproduction, and fire events are an interwoven and an essential part of the ecology of the continent.
  • For thousands of years, Indigenous Australians have used fire to foster grasslands for hunting and to clear tracks through dense vegetation.
  • Major firestorms that result in severe loss of life are often named based on the day on which they occur, such as Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday.
  • Some of the most intense, extensive and deadly bushfires commonly occur during droughts and heat waves.

What Is a Bushfire?

  • One type of wildfire is known as a bushfire, an uncontrolled fire that burns through scrubland, which is common to Australia.
  • Like all wildfires, a bushfire places nature and man under threat.
  • There are many factors that lead to a bushfire or influence its spread. This includes the type of fuel. Some grasses as well as twigs can burn very quickly. On the other hand, large tree trunks don't burn as easily.
  • The moisture of the fuel is another critical factor. Fuel that's wet is unlikely to burn. Similarly, increased humidity decreases the chances that a bushfire will start.
  • On the flipside, lower humidity, higher temperature, and drier conditions all help ignite and spread a fire.
  • Wind plays a key part in the spread of bushfires too. Wind provides much needed oxygen for a fire.
  • A bushfire will spread up a hill much faster than it will down a hill due to the processes of convection and radiation.

These Fires Are Triggering Thunderstorms

  • It's an explosive storm called pyro cumulonimbus and it can inject particles as high as 10 miles into the air.
  • During a fire, heat and moisture from the plants are released, even when the fuel is relatively dry.
  • Warm air is less dense than cold air so it rises, releasing the moisture and forming a cloud that lifts and ends up a thunderstorm started by fire.
  • It happens from time to time in Australia and other parts of the world, including Canada.

Are the Australian trees prone to burning?

  • Eucalyptus trees are especially flammable, "like gasoline on a tree.
  • Chemicals in them make them catch fire easier, spread to the tops of trees and get more intense.
  • Eucalyptus trees were a big factor in 2017 fires in Portugal that killed many people.

Major causes of Bush fires

  • Australia’s deadly fires have been fuelled by a combination of extreme heat, prolonged drought and strong winds.
  • The country is in the grip of a heat wave, with record-breaking temperatures.
  • Major parts of the country are experiencing rainfall shortfalls.
  • Trees, shrubs and grasslands have turned into the perfect tinder for flames.
  • Global warming is intensifying the fires.
  • Indian Ocean Dipole is also among one of the reason as it brings drought like conditions and decline in precipitation plays a major role in intensifying fires.

Effects on Biodiversity

  • The destruction of standing cavity trees as well as dead logs on the ground has negative effects on most small mammal species.
  • Fires can cause the displacement of territorial birds and mammals, which may upset the local balance and ultimately result in the loss of wildlife, since displaced individuals have nowhere to go.
  • Loss of fruit-trees results in overall decline in bird and animal species that rely on fruits for food; this effect is particularly pronounced in tropical forests.
  • It alters the hydrological cycle.
  • It causes harm to the coral reefs, certain plant species.
  • Too much of smoke can lower down the rate of photosynthesis.
  • Fires turn forests into grasslands.
  • Depletion of Ozone layer can also be its one of the outcome.

How can Prevention be done?

  • Obtaining a burning permit for burning grass, brush, slash or other debris in or within a prescribed distance of forest land.
  • A work permit for any work in forest land involving two or more people.
  • Burn only natural vegetation or untreated wood products.
  • Burn piles are at least 50 feet from structures and 500 feet from any forest slash.
  • Clear the area around the burn pile of any flammable debris.
  • Keep fire fighting equipment handy - a connected water hose or at least five gallons of water and a shovel should be nearby.
  • Don't burn if it's too windy to burn - if trees are swaying, flags are extended, or waves appear on open water.
  • Be prepared to extinguish the fire if it becomes a nuisance.
  • Attend the fire until it is completely out.
  • Smoking should not be done while moving from one place to another in forest land.
  • Power saws must have a proper muffler and be accompanied by a round point shovel or fire extinguisher.
  • Cars, trucks and machinery must have proper exhaust systems when operated in or near forest land. Exhaust spark arresters are a requirement on certain machines.
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