Are Australian Wildfires Due To Climate Change?

  • Date: 24/12/19
  • Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That

What does the actual data say?

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Many have questioned what role climate change has played in the Australian wildfires currently wreaking havoc in NSW and across the border in Queensland.

The commonly heard cry is that it is now hotter and drier than in the past.

But what does the actual data say?

First, let’s look at rainfall. All the data and graphs  that follows are from the Australian BOM:

rranom.nsw.0911.49852

As we can see, rainfall in NSW over the last three months is well below average, but no worse than several previous years on record.

On a slightly longer timescale, the same thing can be said about the annual trends from July to June. The black line indicates the 5-year running average, and shows that NSE has much wetter than average for most of the time since 1950. By contrast current conditions were the norm prior to 1950:

rranom.nsw.0706.27902

In fact with the exception of a few small areas, most of Australia has become wetter since 1910. This plainly is not the impression the alarmist media want to give.

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What about temperatures though?

Walgett is one of the few long running rural stations in NSW. Temperatures there have peaked at 44.8C so far this month, averaging 38.0C so far this month:

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However a temperature of 44.8C is not unheard of in Walgett. The all time record of 49.2C was set as long ago as 3rd Jan 1903. The highest temperature in December was 47.8C set in 1883.

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Neither is the monthly average of 38.0C a record high. The three years from 1899 to 1901 all saw average December mean maximum temperatures well above 38.0C.

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Since the station moved to the airport in 1993, 38C has only been exceeded once until this year, that was in 2005, when it averaged 38.5C, still well below the December 1899 when the mean was 39.9C.

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To sum up, NSW is not hotter or drier than it used to be, though undoubtedly it has been unusually so this year. It is simply experiencing weather it has seen many times in the past.

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