Australia Fires: Satellite Shows The Damage Extent On Kangaroo Island After The Ravaging Blazes

The consequences are devastating


One-third of Australia’s Kangaroo Island is now charred.

That means some 600 square miles of the western side of the island — which teems (or once did) with forests, woodlands, and koalas — have been consumed by bushfires. Most of the fire has burned since the New Year, as seen in satellite images. 

Like on the Australian mainland eight miles to the north, profound drought amplified by extreme, record-breaking heat primed the bushlands to burn. 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record, creating conditions for flames that Australian fire experts have called “unprecedented.”

For decades, Australian researchers have warned that hotter climes will increase the odds of larger and more frequent flames. 

“The message has always been the same,” James Ricketts, a veteran volunteer firefighter in Australia and a climate change impacts researcher, told Mashable earlier this week. “Increased warming means increased fire risk.”

Ecologists estimate that some 25,000 koalas have died on Kangaroo Island, according to NASA, while also threatening bird species that have been “brought back from the brink of extinction over the last two decades.”

In a relentlessly warming climate with still-rising carbon emissions, scientists project there will only be more and larger bushfires in the decades ahead. 

“What we’re seeing is continued spreading,” Christine Eriksen, who researches disasters at Australia’s University of Wollongong, told Mashable. “They’re getting bigger. That’s going to be the pattern we see in future years.”


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