Gippsland Hot, Dry and Burning

The news is just in from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) that Australia has just experienced its hottest summer since records began (see here and here). Not only were the records beaten they were ‘smashed’ by 2 degrees above the long term average. It comes as no surprise, as the BOM map indicates, that all of Gippsland (except for the far south west around Grant and Wonthaggi) experienced a record breaking summer.

Also Australia wide rainfall was 30% below average “making it the driest summer since 1982-83, a season affected by a strong El Nino event.” The summer rainfall map for Gippsland is more complicated with a most of the region experiencing a rainfall deficiency with an area in south Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley experiencing a ‘severe deficiency’. Only in the far-east, Cann River to Mallacoota, was average summer rainfall received. It must be remembered that this is for summer rainfall only and consequently most of the region remains in drought. I have commented on this recently here.

The current bushfires across Gippsland from Bunyip to Dargo and in the Strzeleckis near Yinnar combined with the early autumn low intensity heatwave felt across most of the region are indicative of how dry it is. But I have yet to see a media article that mentions the planet warming or the words ‘climate change’ in association with either the fires, the unusual warmth or the dry. Like the ‘Timbarra’ these bushfires will continue to burn for some time and may await substantial rain to put them out completely. It is of more than passing interest that the region has experienced bushfires across the last four seasons – from the winter bushfire at Cape Conran to those currently burning.

And unfortunately the autumn outlet is not looking promising. We have entered the season with low intensity heatwave temperatures and the BOM predictions for the eastern half of the continent are for a below average rainfall in autumn. For Gippsland the predicted chances of exceeding ‘median’ rainfall are low – in the 25-30% range.

Action to combat global warming poses a dilemma for whatever we do now is not going to solve anything in the short term. But by doing nothing or making tokenistic efforts, or worse still fiddling our carbon accounts, we can be sure that it will get worse and worse and worse – hotter and dryer with the occasional catastrophic bushfire or drought breaking flood thrown in. That we are in a climate emergency has been apparent for some time.