Study: Bushfire seasons are increasing in the world but not in Australia and New Zealand

Firefighters from Redding, California, help a resident search for personal belongings. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Analysis of the length of fire seasons around the world for the past 35 years has found an almost 20% increase everywhere except in Australia and New Zealand.

The US and Australian study in the journal Nature Communications says the fire seasons were driven by wind, humidity, temperature and a lack of rain. The researchers say the increase might be due to climate change.

Bushfies burn about 350 million hectares globally each year, resulting in social disruption and substantial economic loss.

This map shows global patterns of fire weather season length changes from 1979 to 2013:

Source: Nature Communications

The US has spent $1.7 billion on wildfire suppression over the last decade.

And a surge of extremely destructive fires in recent years has led to calls for a greater understanding of the drivers behind them.

William Jolly of the US Forest Service, David Bowman of he University of Tasmania and colleagues find that combined surface weather changes have resulted in the duration of fire seasons increasing by 18.7%.

Bushfires now affect more than a quarter of the globe’s vegetated land surface.

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