The annual Australia’s Environment Report summarises a large number of observations on the trajectory of our natural resources and ecosystems. It is prepared by the Centre for Water and Landscape Dynamics at the Australian National University (ANU).
As part of their report for 2019, they prepared an assessment of alpine areas. With hot weather, terrible fires, and dry conditions we already know how bad summer was for the mountains. This report quantifies some of the impacts.
Key findings for 2019 in the Alps were:
- Rainfall was 2nd lowest since 2000
- Maximum temperature was 3rd highest since 2000
- The number of days above 35 °C was the 3rd highest since 2000
- River flows were 3rd lowest since 2000
- Fire carbon emissions were 3rd highest since 2000.
As you would expect, the impacts of this summer’s fires are grim.
The report underscores the impacts of this summer’s fires: Australia’s wet forests were impacted heavily. An unprecedented 8.7% or 0.59 Mha of closed forests was burnt, (and there were further bushfires in early 2020 NSW, Victoria and ACT which are not included in the report).
Unusually dry fuel and hot weather explain high fire activity in southeast Australia.
Nationally, fuel was the driest since at least 2000 due to low fuel cover as well as low moisture content.
Total fire carbon emissions were above average at 182 Mt carbon; 24% more than the 2000–2018 average and 14% more than in the previous year.
Bushfires affected large areas of closed forest in NSW. Vulnerable vegetation types affected by the fires in 2019 and January 2020 included 35% of all rainforests, 41% of wet sclerophyll forests and 53% of heathlands.
On the report website, you can find a national summary report, as well as report cards for different types of administrative and geographical regions. In the accompanying data explorer, the spatial data can be viewed as maps, accounts or charts by region and land use type, and downloaded for further use.
As always, the cure for depression is action.