Climate Change

Is the increasing instance of forest fires globally linked to climate change?

From Australia to Africa to Siberia, forest fires are burning across much of the world

Published: Friday 03 January 2020

According to the real time global fire monitoring website, Australia currently accounts for 33 per cent of total fire alerts being generated.

The country is in the global news headlines as its worst bush fire grips a quarter of the country. The state of New South Wales has declared emergency for the third time this fire season starting from September last. This state is the worst affected one; Sydney is in this state.

Between December 1, 2019, and January 2, 2020, there were over 1.5 million fire alerts. Australia has over 0.5 million of fire alerts. In the first two days of the New Year, the country reported 3,695 fire alerts. Globally, this figure stands at 13,938. These are being generated by NASA’s Fire Information for Reserve Management using satellites.

Australia tops the 10 countries with highest fire alerts between December 1, 2019, and January 2, 2020, with 0.521 million alerts. However, the remaining nine countries are in Africa, often not reported widely.

After Australia, the Central African Republic has 2,47,000 fire alerts. At the third position is South Sudan with 2,32,000 alerts. Other African countries among the top 10 countries with high fire alerts are: Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Guinea, Cameroon and Sudan. Brazil is the only country from the Americas to feature in this list.

In 2019, forest fires from across the world were reported with never-before-seen reach and intensity. As the international non-profit Greenpeace said in a recent statement: “Siberia, one of the coldest places on Earth, is on fire. The Amazon, one of the wettest places on Earth, is on fire. Fires are burning across the planet, we need to act fast.”

Globally, 2019 had the highest number of fire alerts since 2015. In 2019, there were 4.5 million fire alerts. In 2018, it was 4.94 million. In 2015, there were 4.7 million fire alerts. Since 2001, going by the Forest Fire Watch data from the website, the number of fire alerts has gone up significantly. From 1.7 million in 2001, it has hovered above 4 million.

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