These components have led to the development of the deadly trio of Fuel, Oxygen and Heat. Remove any one of these and fire will not be able to sustain itself. HEAT. Air temperatures have a direct influence on fire behavior and has all the requirements for ignition and continuing the combustion process. Heat from the sun is transferred to the earth by radiation.  This heat warms up the surface of the earth and the atmosphere close to the surface is in turn warmed by heat reflecting from the surface.

Wind also has a strong effect on the heat of a fire because it works like the bellows in a forge, blowing more oxygen into the fire, just like in the old days when people would use an old newspaper as a fan to get the kindling in the wood stove going to boil the kettle and cook meals.

Helicopter Water Tanker Fighting Bush Fire

This is the reason that the temperature above the surface is cooler than at the surface of the earth. These temperatures generally decrease about 3.5 C degrees per thousand feet in altitude. This decrease is known as the adiabatic lapse rate. This is why climate scientists are divided on whether to continue with the unreliable method of modelling to estimate temperature or to use the wider coverage and reliability of satellites and  factor in the cooling bias.

Forest fuels receive heat by radiation from the sun.  As a result, less heat is required for ignition.  The differential heating of the earth’s surface is the driving force behind most of the influences on the atmosphere.  The sun emits short-wave energy rays (radiation).  When striking a solid object such as trees or grass, it is warmed.  The surface absorbs some of the heat and reflects some in long-wave radiation that is absorbed by the water vapor in the air thus raising its temperature as well.

At least fifteen percent of fires are lit by natural cause such as lightning and a further thirty five percent are accidental/careless.

WIND supplies extra OXYGEN which also assists combustion. Reduces fuel moisture and increases evaporation. Exerts pressure to move the fire, and the heat produced closer to fuel in the path of the fire increases radiation and blows embers ahead of the fire.

The stronger the wind blows the more it increases the supply of oxygen which results in the fire burning hotter and more rapidly and in the process prepares damp hazardous forest floor material for easy ignition by drying it out.

There are other problems with the wind, it can change speed and direction or become gusty. Wind can also influence the speed and intensity of a bush fire. High winds can cause the fire to crown into the top of the trees and jump fire breaks that would normally stop a fire. Wind can carry sparks ahead of the main blaze creating spot fires ahead of the blaze.

FUEL to BURN. The Australian bush, though it has a reputation for being dry and scrubby, varies greatly from place to place around the country. There are regions of open woodlands, grassland savannas, dense rain forest. A bush fire will burn anything that it finds in its path, but different types of vegetation burn differently. Generally, fuel is classified as being fine (grasses and twigs that are less than 6 millimetres in diameter) or heavy (branches, logs or stumps). Finer fuels burn more easily, feeding the spread of the fire, but heavier fuels burn with greater intensity, creating more heat and making the fire more difficult to put out.


  1. Sel Murray says:

    Ten year droughts and flooding rains are part of Australia’s history. The Murray River stopped flowing on several occasions. That’s climate change… not how much Carbon Dioxide is in the atmosphere.

  2. Talford says:

    Australia has had fires as large and more lethal than the recent fires in NSW.
    But we are now told that bush fires today are more prevalent than ever before due to climate change. Previous royal commissions findings have identified a preceding drought (dry fuel), high temperatures, forest floor debris, and strong winds (oxygen) among the main causes.

  3. Angela Garby says:

    They won’t tell us what it is about climate change that is increasing the frequency and ferocity of Australian bush fires. So far they have been unable to demonstrate any change in their behavior or how often they occur. Michael Mann, who had costs awarded against him after his hockey stick graph was challenged in court, made us none the wiser after his recent appearance on the ABC at our expense.

  4. Ray Garby says:

    A 2008 study found that in Australia about 85% of fires were triggered by human activity – this includes arson, but also carelessness or recklessness. According to Australia’s National Centre for Research into Bushfire and Arson, 13% of bushfires every year are deliberate and 37% are suspicious. But try telling the the global warming people …its all about climate change.

  5. Fabian says:

    The ABC’s tendency to promote the message of catastrophic Anthropogenic global warming is coming from a powerful group within the ABC who have captured the corporation, at least on climate change. It has a duty to all Australians to broadcast honestly the best available evidence on both sides of the argument so that we can make up our own minds. This has not been happening.

    1. Lesley Watts says:

      The ABC are now promoting a very bitter Malcolm Turnbull who said he was going to leave politics for good after having twice lost the support of the liberal party and its voters. He did not win any friends when he accused the Murdoch papers of reporting that Australia’s bush fires were due to arson, which was a lie.

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