Distinguishing natural and anthropogenic influences on extreme fire danger in Australia

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Mitchell T Black1, David J Karoly1, Lisa V. Alexander2,3 and Todd P Lane1,4, (1)School of Earth Sciences and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, (2)University of New South Wales, Climate Change Research Centre, Sydney, Australia, (3)Climate Change Research Centre and ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, (4)University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
In the aftermath of the recent wildfires in Australia the scientific community was faced with the challenge of quantifying the event’s link to different causal factors, including human-induced climate change. While there are a number of recorded attribution studies for temperature and precipitation-related events, no such study exists for fire weather.

This study investigates how the likelihood of extreme fire weather in Australia has been changed due to the competing influences of human-induced climate change and modes of inter-annual climate variability. Our analysis benefits from the use of the recently launched weather@home Australia-New Zealand distributed computing citizen science project to generate very large ensembles of regional climate model simulations over Australia. The likelihood of extreme fire weather is examined for different phases of the El Niño Southern Oscillation under present climate conditions and climate conditions with no human influences.