Australia may be getting a glimpse of its globally warmed future.
Experts agreed Tuesday that no one drought, flood or wildfire can be attributed to global warming, but they stressed that the eucalyptus forest and farms of southeastern Australia are becoming warmer, drier and more prone to fire as the planet heats up.
Global warming cannot be blamed for starting the hundreds of recent fires — tens of thousands of such blazes erupt across Australia every fire season, from October to March — but the effects of climate change exacerbate their ferocity, said Neville Nicholls, an expert on climate change and wildfires at Australia’s Monash University.
First, a decade of drought has made Australia’s wild forests — known as “the bush” — tinder dry. Second, a sustained heat wave settled over the region.
Lastly, record-smashing temperatures on Saturday topped 117 F and combined with winds up to 60 mph to whip fires into furnace-like intensity.