Australian rangelands and climate change – fire

Australian rangelands and climate change – fire Report

Climate Change in Australia – Impacts & Adaptation Information for Australia’s NMR Regions

  • Author(s): Bastin, G.
  • Published: 2014
  • Publisher: Rangelands NMR Cluster, Ninti One Limited and CSIRO

Abstract: We anticipate that fire regimes in the Rangelands Cluster region will be modified by climate change in three main ways: Although annual rainfall will continue to be highly variable, a greater summer component may increase grass biomass and thereby fire risk, particularly following extended wetter periods; Warmer temperatures will extend the meteorological fire season and greatly increase fire danger following successive wetter years. Within the fire season, increased periods of very high temperature and low humidity will increase periods of potential very high fire danger. This may translate to widespread intense wildfire where fuel loads are sufficient, ignition occurs and there is limited capacity to implement prior strategic controlled burning and other fuel reduction practices to reduce this risk. 3. The predicted continued spread and thickening of buffel grass will exacerbate this risk. Analysis of the recent fire record available from satellite-based fire-scar mapping can provide useful context for predicting what may occur under climate change. Here we use data supplied to the Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System (ACRIS) by WA Landgate to describe the recent fire regime (extent and frequency) for bioregions within Rangelands Cluster NRM regions. Extensive wildfire is more common in the spinifex-dominant deserts and following two or more years of above average rainfall. This feature was last experienced in central Australia in 2011 and 2012. Buffel grass can greatly change the fire regime at local scale: it increases fuel loads, responds readily to fire disturbance and has the capacity to make local environments in which it thrives much more fire-prone.

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Suggested Citation
Bastin, G., 2014, Australian rangelands and climate change – fire, Report, viewed 18 August 2022,

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