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The Anthropocene

Forest fires in Australia are worsening

The Black Summer forest fires of 2019–2020 in Australia burned more than 24 million hectares (59 million acres), directly causing 33 deaths and almost 450 more from smoke inhalation. Nearly 3 billion animals (mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs) were killed or displaced.

A study has found:

  • The annual area burned by fire across Australia’s forests has been increasing by about 48,000 hectares (119,000 acres) per year over the last three decades. After 5 years, that would be roughly the size of the entire Australian Capital Territory.
  • In the past 90 years, there were four megafire years (defined as a year in which more than one million hectares burn). The first was 1939, and the subsequent three all occurred after 2001. 
  • The fire season is growing, spreading out of spring and summer into autumn and winter.