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Technology Australian bushfires: Everything we know and how you can help

04:15  03 january  2020
04:15  03 january  2020 Source:   cnet.com

Bushfires conditions worsen in east and west Australia

  Bushfires conditions worsen in east and west Australia Bushfires conditions worsen in east and west AustraliaMore than 60 fires are burning across New South Wales, Australia. The blazes have killed at least three and destroyed hundreds of homes.

The bushfire risk for the 2019 season was well known to Australian firefighting chiefs, who had been trying to meet with Scott Morrison, the Australian You can find links to donate below: Australia 's Red Cross Disaster relief and recovery fund helps support evacuation centers and recovery programs

Raging bushfires in Australia , so extreme that ash, smoke and carbon monoxide from the burning have reached distant New Zealand, could rage for months, climate experts in both countries are warning. Australia 's Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)

Australia is currently facing an unprecedented national crisis, as bushfires tear through rural communities across the nation. Since September, at least 17 people have been killed and over 1,500 homes have been destroyed. At least 28 people are confirmed missing after bushfires tore through busy tourist hubs in eastern Victoria. The scale of the threat is immense, and fires continue to burn, with authorities calling for people to evacuate their homes as the country braces for another weekend of catastrophic danger.

a man that is standing in the dark: Australia is on fire. Brett Hemmings/Getty© Provided by CNET Australia is on fire. Brett Hemmings/Getty

Australians caught up in the crisis are taking to social media and pleading for help. Entire towns have been flattened as fires snaked through bushland, across highways and up mountains. In New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, the most populous states in the country, people tried to outrun the blaze and highways were clogged with cars. In major cities, like Sydney and Melbourne, a dense smoke has descended over busy metropolitan areas like a blanket. Some regions of the country recorded air quality measurements 20 times above the hazardous level.

South Australia bushfires: Schools close as 'catastrophic' fires threaten homes and lives

  South Australia bushfires: Schools close as 'catastrophic' fires threaten homes and lives Deadly bushfires have ravaged parts of Australia in recent weeks, whipped up by soaring temperatures, strong winds and the worst drought in decades. But summer hasn't really even begun -- and fears are growing that conditions will only get worse. More than 100 schools have closed in South Australia as catastrophic fire conditions threatened seven districts across the state Wednesday, including the Mount Lofty Ranges and Mid North, near to the state's capital Adelaide which is home to 1.3 million people.

Thousands of Tourists Flee Australian Bushfires as Military Begins Evacuations. (PERTH, Australia ) — Thousands of tourists fled Australia ’s wildfire-ravaged eastern coast Thursday ahead of worsening conditions as the military started to evacuate people trapped on the shore further south.

Bushfires on New Year's Eve force thousands to shelter on beaches, military called in. Your news how you want it. Warning levels for a string of bushfires burning on the South Australian mainland have all been reduced but concerns remain for six blazes, including those burning on Kangaroo Island

a man that is standing in the dark: Australia is on fire.© Brett Hemmings/Getty

Australia is on fire.

The situation is grim. Here's what we know about the ongoing fires, followed by a number of ways you can help.

What caused the fires?

This is a complex question. Australia is a continent familiar with bushfires, bushfire management and the importance of fires in regenerating the land. The Indigenous people who have lived on the land for tens of thousands of years have long known the importance of fire management and how it contributes to the health of ecosystems. Bushfires are a well-understood threat, but the fires currently burning across the nation have been described as "unprecedented" in their ferocity and scale.

Tourists, firefighters flee as new heatwave fans Australia blazes

  Tourists, firefighters flee as new heatwave fans Australia blazes Tourists and firefighters were forced to flee vast fires burning in southeastern Australia on Monday, as a heatwave rekindled devastating bush blazes across the country. "Winds are gusting and unfortunately this is a dry lightning front that is going to move rapidly across South Australia," he told national broadcaster ABC. Authorities said "quite a number" of the 30,000 tourists visiting the usually picturesque southeast tip of the continent had heeded calls to evacuate.

“ We know from experience many of those displaced by the fires are going to need us for many months or years ahead,” Salvation Army spokesman Major “ We are committed to standing alongside these communities for as long as it takes to get them back on their feet.” You can donate to the Salvation

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said another firefighter was injured in a separate vehicle. "This is awful news for the families and our sympathies are with them. Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways

Fires can start in a number of ways -- from carelessly discarded cigarettes to lightning strikes and arson -- but they are fueled by a dizzying amount of risk factors. A lack of rain and low soil moisture can help enable small fires to grow in size, and coupled with the high temperatures and fierce winds that Australia has experienced in the last few months, these small fires become huge infernos. In addition, with the fire season getting longer, the window to perform critical hazard reduction burns has decreased.

The bushfire risk for the 2019 season was well known to Australian firefighting chiefs, who had been trying to meet with Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, since April, worried that a crisis was coming but were constantly rebuffed.

What is the connection to climate change ?

Bushfires aren't started by climate change, but they are exacerbated by the effects of global warming. The Climate Council, an independent, community-funded climate organization, suggests bushfire conditions are now more dangerous than they were in the past, with longer bushfire seasons, drought, drier fuels and soils and record-breaking heat. The link between bushfires and climate change has become a political football, but experts agree climate change explains the unprecedented nature of the current crisis.

Australia fires: Here's what you need to know about the deadly blazes

  Australia fires: Here's what you need to know about the deadly blazes Australia is being ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades, with large swathes of the country devastated since the fire season began in September. Learn about the fire causes, locations and other information.Molten metal runs from a burnt-out vehicle at a destroyed property in Sarsfield, East Gippsland, Victoria, on Dec. 31.

Evacuees and residents in Bairnsdale band together to help one another, while cut-off NSW communities struggle to reconnect to the world outside.

So is climate change making everything dryer? After originally deflecting any talk of climate change policy during the bushfire crisis when it began in October last year, a move “I know you can have kids in the car and there is anxiety and there is stress and the traffic is not moving quickly but the best thing to “And, you know , I mean it’s quite right that there have been bushfires in Australia before.

Notably, Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2019, climbing 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the average, according to a report by the Bureau of Meteorology. Rising temperatures increase the risk of bushfire, and in November, Sydney experienced a catastrophic fire danger for the first time ever.

There is also a horrifying feedback loop that occurs when great swaths of land are ablaze, a fact the globe grappled with during the Amazon fires of 2019. Bushfires release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The gas, which makes up only a small percentage of the total gases in the atmosphere, is exceptionally good at trapping heat. In just three months, Australia's fires are estimated to have released 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Experts warn a century or more will be needed to absorb the carbon dioxide released.

What areas are affected?

Fires are raging in every state with some of the greatest conflagrations in NSW and Victoria. The Gospers Mountains fires, in NSW, have burned over half a million hectares, and scientists suggest it could be the largest single-ignition point fire in Australia's history. The total area burnt has is rapidly approaching 6 million hectares (almost 15 million acres) with conditions worsening over the coming days, putting more communities and land at risk.

Thousands flee Australia’s coastal towns as raging wildfires close in

  Thousands flee Australia’s coastal towns as raging wildfires close in A navy ship prepared to evacuate tourists and residents from one remote area, as authorities warned of potentially catastrophic conditions this weekend.Children play at the showgrounds in the southern New South Wales town of Bega where they are camping out after being evacuated from nearby sites affected by the fire, on Dec. 31.

The Guardian Australia has an excellent interactive map you can use to understand the extreme size of the fires, and the entire fire front, compared to other cities around the globe.

The dust and ash from the fires have spread across the ocean and as far as New Zealand's Franz Josef Glacier. On Jan. 1, images emerged of Franz Josef's snowy mountaintops colored a caramel brown. The distance between the glacier and the bushfire front is about the same as the distance from Boston to Miami.

Are koalas at risk of extinction?

An erroneous report in November 2019 stated the koala, an Australian icon, was "functionally extinct" due to the bushfires burning across NSW and Queensland. Experts do not believe this to be true, but the species -- and many other native Australian fauna -- are under threat as a direct result of the uncontrolled blazes.

Ecologists at the University of Sydney estimate up to 480 million animals may have perished in the conflagrations, including up to 8,000 koalas. Sussan Ley, Australian environment minister, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the true extent of deaths can't be fully grasped until the fires have stopped burning and "a proper assessment can be made."

How you can help

A number of organizations and volunteer services are aiding in the firefighting and recovery efforts for affected communities. You can find links to donate below:

US sends additional support to Australia to help battle apocalyptic wildfires

  US sends additional support to Australia to help battle apocalyptic wildfires Australia wildfires will now have additional fire personnel from the U.S. to help battle the blazes.Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Personnel, Jayden Mansfield, cross checks names of evacuees from Mallacoota board HMAS Choules in Victoria, on Jan. 3.

  • Australia's Red Cross Disaster relief and recovery fund helps support evacuation centers and recovery programs for the affected communities
  • The NSW Rural Fire Service has a donation page to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales
  • The Country Fire Authority is the state of Victoria's rural firefighting service and you can donate directly here.
  • The Country Fire Service in South Australia also takes direct donations.
  • The Salvation Army has a disaster appeal donations page set up to deliver support to local communities affected by the blazes.
  • Foodbank is taking donations to help people in need during the crisis. You can donate at its website to the Victorian relief effort, which helps get relief for communities cut off from power and food.
  • Givit is a not-for-profit organization that cares for those in need by letting you donate goods they then pass on. It accepts items or money at its donation page.
  • The RSPCA bushfire appeal is used to protect the pets, livestock and wildlife affected by bushfires, helping evacuate animals from disaster zones. Items like livestock pellets and possum boxes are also incredibly handy.
  • The World Wildlife Fund accepts donations to help support conservation activities, particularly related to koalas. Money can help provide emergency care during bushfires.
  • The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has already raised in excess of $2 million to help search for and protect the koalas in the region. You can donate at its GoFundMe page.
  • WIRES is an Australia wildlife rescue organization with a myriad ways to help Australia's native fauna. Donations can be made through its website.
  • Run your online searches through Ecosia, which uses profits to plant trees where they are needed most. Trees help reduce the carbon dioxide load. It can be added to Chrome.
  • In the US, if you want to contact elected officials and make your voice heard about climate change action -- you can do that here.

This article was originally posted on Dec. 2 and is being constantly updated.

Three U.S. Firefighters Die in Water-Bomber Crash in Australia .
Three U.S. firefighters have died after their water-bombing plane crashed while battling a blaze near the Kosciuszko National Park, as Australia’s wildfire crisis flares again. The trio were working for Coulson Aviation, which bills itself as the global leader in aerial firefighting, and was contracted by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service to help fight the blazes.“A large air tanker crashed in the Snowy Monaro region,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. “Our thoughts and prayers and heartfelt condolences go to their families.

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