Could climate data help beat wildfires?

Community bonds build resilience before disaster hits

When disaster hits, Australians are quick to help. Yet in the months and years after ashes flicker out, floodwaters recede or the cyclonic winds abate, a common story often emerges — afflicted communities feel left behind to rebuild alone as the world rolls on.

For disaster often hits communities already vulnerable. A fire or flood entrenches existing disadvantage, compounding stresses and trauma.

The landmark Beyond Bushfires report, released last week by the University of Melbourne, caps 10 years of study on the experience of Victorians affected by the Black Saturday bushfires. A decade after the disaster, only a third of people in the worst-affected areas feel their community is “mostly” or “fully” recovered. On an individual level, only six out of 10 felt their recovery was on track…

Could climate data help beat wildfires?

Could climate data be the key to slowing the spread of wildfires? We talk to a wildfire analyst and a climate change risk expert in Spain as they join forces to get to the bottom of natural fires and how they’re changing in this episode of our monthly climate change series Climate Now.

“The kind of subsoil fire that was unthinkable 20 years ago is now a reality”

Marc Castellnou Strategic Wildfire Analyst

Firstly, let’s first look at the latest Copernicus Climate Change Service data for March 2021.

Globally, March was cooler than it has been for the past five years, although temperatures were still 0.2 degrees Celsius above the new 1991-2020 average.

In Europe, temperatures were not particularly extreme, but there was a great deal of variability elsewhere. It was more than 6 degrees cooler than average in western Antarctica and northern Siberia. It was also several degrees warmer than average in a huge band stretching from the Arabian peninsula, across through Mongolia, China and eastern Russia. There was another hotspot in the Svalbard archipelago too.

Photos from one of the Sentinel-3 satellites show a clear area of blue sea north of Svalbard that would normally be covered by sea ice in March…

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