Due to the difference in the seasons and weather systems, the timing of fire season in the Southern Hemisphere typically varies compared to that of the U.S. During fire season in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia experiences bushfires, while treacherous rainforest fires have affected the Amazon in recent years.
Bushfires in Australia
Generally, the peak bushfire season occurs during the dry winter and spring in Northern Australia and during the spring and summer for Southern Australia. Severe bushfire conditions are influenced by a combination of temperate and tropical systems. In most cases hot, dry winds blowing from central Australia have the largest impact. Similarly to what occurs in the western U.S., bushfires are more likely to ignite and burn during hot, dry, and windy conditions.
In Southern Australia, cold fronts have the largest impact on fire weather due to the strong winds that coincide with the temperature change. When a cold front moves through the area, winds usually shift, which significantly affects fire behavior. Unfortunately, as climate change continues, the frequency and severity of bushfires also increases throughout Australia. In recent years, Southern and Eastern Australia have had more extreme fire conditions, along with an earlier start to fire season.
2021-2022 Bushfire Season in Australia
While bushfire season in Australia is in full swing, this year’s fires do not compare to anything that occurred during the 2019-2020 season. Although bushfire season as not been as active as years past, a few bushfires have been notable. A series of bushfires burned in Western Australia during extremely hot and unpredictable weather conditions. Fire activity remained critical overnight, which is not typical for bushfires. Several structures were reported as damaged, along with a few complete losses. Some residents did not have adequate time to evacuate, so they sheltered in place as the fire moved through the area. One resident sustained injuries after attempting to fight fire on his property.
Fires in the Amazon Rainforest
Similarly to other regions, fire season in South America occurs during the dry months, which are regionally July through October. This past fire season, notable fire activity within the Amazon Rainforest occurred throughout Colombia and Brazil. The Colombian Amazon experienced record heat and fires throughout January 2022. At least 938 forest fires were recorded in the Colombian Amazon during this record-breaking time period. As for the Brazilian Amazon, more than 1,000 major fires burned in the area this past fire season. Estimates show about 2 million acres burned in the Brazilian Amazon from January 2021 through July 2021. While fires during this period are not unusual, they typically are not natural. Research suggests a combination of human neglect and deforestation lead to the majority of these rainforest fires.