Having burned through over 15.6 million acres, the Australian wildfires have forced thousands to evacuate. Fires have been particularly intense along Australia’s east coast, with New South Wales suffering severe damage and Victoria declaring a state of disaster. Coastal communities, where fires were fanned by strong winds, are the latest to fall victim to the spreading fires.
This year has been the hottest and driest ever measured on the continent, and December’s heat was particularly brutal. Lightning strikes are believed to have started a number of fires and winds have spread them. Some bushfires having been burning for months, and extreme temperatures range from 115-120°F. Experts are saying climate change has contributed to making this year’s situation with drought conditions coupled with strong seasonal winds.
Aside from its impact on the human population, the Australian bush fires have had a devasting impact on wildlife, with an estimated one-third of the Australian koala population lost. Herds of domesticated livestock are also at risk as evacuating towns and fighting the fires strain Australia’s emergency resources.
Australia is a large producer of grains, sugar cane, dairy products, and wine. Likewise, its currency, the Australian dollar, is strongly linked to its agriculturally driven economy. With the primary focus of federal efforts now on savings lives and preventing further destruction of property, it may be months before the full impact on the Australian economy is fully assessed.
The extent of the fires is sizeable enough to see from satellite imagery as fires are mapped and plumes of smoke track across the region.
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