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A broader perspective on the causes and consequences of eastern Australia's 2019–20 season of mega‐fires: A response to Adams et al.

Author(s): Ross A. Bradstock, Rachael H. Nolan, Luke Collins, Víctor Resco de Dios, Hamish G. Clarke, Meaghan E. Jenkins, Belinda Kenny, Matthais M. Boer
Year Published: 2020
Description:

This article is a Response to Adams et al. 26, 3756–3758. See also the Letter by Nolan et al. 26, 1039–1041.

In a response to our Letter on the causes and consequences of the 2019–20 forest fires in eastern Australia (Nolan et al., 2020), Adams, Neumann, and Shadmanroodposhti (2020) argued that fuel loads were causal to the occurrence and size of the fires, along with antecedent dryness. They state that fuel levels were ‘extreme everywhere', resulting from a lack of fuel reduction via use of prescribed fire. Their proposition is, however, problematic for various reasons.

First, they provide no details of the source, methodology and sampling date of their fuel data, nor how it accounted for the wide variations in fire history across the forested landscapes of New South Wales (NSW; Figure 1a), and variations in fuel dynamics among forest types (e.g. Thomas, Watson, Bradstock, Penman, & Price, 2014). Given the strong influence of time since last fire on fine fuel accumulation (Thomas et al., 2014) and the limited scope of sampling, their data do not provide a comprehensive summary of fuels across the fire grounds. Fuel loads, based on the recent fire history and known fuel dynamics, were likely highly variable, with a considerable area recently burnt (Figure 1a), with corresponding inferred low fuel loads.

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Citation: Bradstock RA, Nolan RH, Collins L, Resco de Dios V, Clarke H, Jenkins M, Kenny B, and Boer MM. 2020. A broader perspective on the causes and consequences of eastern Australia's 2019–20 season of mega‐fires: A response to Adams et al. Global Change Biology 26 (7): e8-e9. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15111|
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Extreme Fire Behavior, Case Studies, Fire & Climate, Fuels
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 21708
Record updated: Aug 6, 2020