NSW bush destruction, Victorian birds fall from sky, and Tassie fires start

A Twitter post is shown below, by Mercurius Goldstein, who lives near Glenn Innes, New South Wales.

I suggest you visit Twitter and see the images and discussion in his long post.

It includes a series of pictures of burned bush, along with comments on regrowth, riverbed water flow and the lack of effect from prior burn-offs.

Meanwhile, also on Twitter, birds fall from trees in Victoria …

See this link for a story on the effectiveness of burn-offs in Tasmania.

For Tasmanians, fires started last night or yesterday at Lake Gordon, the same region where last summer’s fires began.

Climate change acceleration

Australia’s overall national heat record was smashed the past couple of days, with the hottest recorded day being topped by a full 1C increase the following day (December 19).

If it was just Australia getting hotter you could shrug it off, but it is getting hotter around the world, including in the oceans, just as global warming science predicted decades ago.

Worryingly, heat records are falling despite the fact the sun is at a solar minimum in its regular 11-year cycle.

The graph at the top of this page shows solar activity since 2008.

Sunspot numbers tend to go up with solar output.

Soon, solar output will increase with the next solar maximum, which is expected around 2030.

Solar output does not change much within these cycles, but it will likely have some effect.

Often quoted in arguments about climate change are Milankovitch cycles, which are patterns in the earth’s movement around the sun.

Milankovitch cycles don’t explain anything with certainty, but they do show that past changes in earth’s climate far exceeded that what should be caused by the slight changes in the earth’s movement around the sun.

This suggests that the earth’s climate is finely balanced, and that once shifted, feedback loops kick in that change the climate far more than the actions of solar input.

For an example of feedback – heat melts permafrost, which puts more greenhouse gas into the air, which melts more permafrost.

As I have noted earlier, this may already be happening, with methane going up fast at Barrow, in the Arctic.

Other things may help accelerate climate change, such as removing sulfur from shipping fuels, as reported here.

Ironically, anything that removes particulate pollution from the air allows more sunlight to hit the earth, and the loss of this “global dimming” is a conumdrum for those who want to close coal plants etc.

With heat records falling, and likely to keep falling, it is a very good time to be living in Tasmania.

Read more about solar cycles here, and Milankovitch_cycles here.

Burned forests are not spent

I spoke to a forester recently who has been working in last summer’s burned areas around southern Tasmania.

He said the burned forests are far from spent.

“There is that much charred timber on the ground and stuff falling off the previously burned trees that I’d say those areas could burn again very easily,” he said.

“That and the fact that much of the eucalypt grows back quickly doesn’t help.”

Meanwhile, see this picture from the Blue Mountains near Sydney.

Sydney is in deep doodoo this year, the health ramifications from the smoke inhalation alone will likely be long-term … think lowered IQs, earlier onset dementia, and other nerve diseases, cancer etc. Much illness will not be recognised as caused by fire smoke because of the latency.

The point of these posts is not to scare, but to get people motivated – buy a fire pump, service the fire pump, and clear the rubbish and vegetation around your house.

If you can’t be a firefighter the least you can do is ensure your property will not be a fire hazard because of lack of prep.

We don’t want farms, says insurer

Apia has been a good insurance company for us, we have insured with them for years and they have been mostly prompt with vehicle-related claims.

That all changed this week.

Apia told us they won’t renew our home insurance policy because our property has “farming activities”.

They did not offer us an alternative farm policy.

The hobby farm status has not been a problem before, but perhaps with rural properties going up in flames across Australia insurers are cutting risk.

We run a few sheep and horses.

Excess lambs are sold each year, but that’s it for “farming activity”.

If we are lucky the lamb sales pays the annual hay and vet bills and the ongoing fence, irrigation, trough and dam repairs.

Usually, livestock on a small “hobby farm” runs at an annual loss.

An important reason to maintain livestock on any rural property, aside from being a source of cheap meat, is to keep the grass down, to reduce summer fire risk. Livestock are therefore good for home insurers, as they reduce fire risk.

I have appealed the decision with Apia, we’ll see what happens.

Getting some quotes meanwhile.

If the quotes are excessive because of “farming activities”, this would be an incentive to remove the animals.

Weeks of cold fronts, and half of Tasmania is bone dry

Our small property in southern Tasmania has copped one cold front after another over the past three weeks.

The valley greyed out with each squall, and it looked like it was going to snow on several occasions.

Nonetheless, very little rain fell locally and the Huon River, fed by rain that falls up on the Lake Pedder high country, rose only a little.

Tellingly, as soon as the rain passed, the ground dried out.

Our seepage-fed dams are at the lowest level I have seen. There seems to be no moisture in the soil.

One of our dams has never really dropped much in the eight years I have been here, but this year it is way down.

I have attached today’s fuel dryness maps from BOM. Outside of the West Coast, Tasmania is bone dry.

Having had fires last year, and watching events on the mainland, some of us in Tasmania would be happy to miss out on a summer this year.

Keep those squalls a-comin’!

IMO2020 and global heating

Australian fires as seen from Sentinel yesterday

It has been a cold and windy lead-up to Christmas in southern Tasmania, as mainland Australia burns (pictured above).

Some local folk believe the cold weather refutes global warming, but it is well demonstrated that climate change will see greater extremes of both hot and cold, especially in high latitudes.

The stratospheric warming event reported on this blog earlier may be behind Tassie’s cold summer weather, but look up the Southern Annular Mode on the BOM website for the official explanation for the wintery conditions.

For an overall report on what caused the severe Australia-wide weather in late 2019 go to this link here.

My local observation is that despite the mostly light rain we have had in the successive cold squalls over the past six weeks, the ground is not sodden and dries out very quickly in the almost constant blasting wind. (DEC 13, 2019 EDIT: Our seepage fed dams are at the lowest level I’ve seen.)

I suspect that when the weather turns summer will come on strong, but we’ll have to wait and see. Given what is happening on the mainland, a summer without a summer might not be such a bad thing for Tasmania in 2019/20.

Aside from a fire at Swansea, as I write this Tasmania has escaped major burns so far. Fires started in October but the onset of polar weather in November knocked them out.

So, what is IMO2020, as per the heading?

It is a new shipping fuel regulation that will bring sulfur pollution down by a large margin. Unfortunately sulfur helps with “global dimming”, which cools the planet slightly, although not enough to counter greenhouse warming from CO2 and methane.

Will global warming take a leap upward when global shipping stops emitting sulfur? The amount of sulfur pollution released from shipping far exceeds that from all the world’s cars and trucks … link here.

Something to ponder.

Happily, the polar blasts have brought decent rainfall to the West Coast, but the East Coast still looks grim, as shown on the one-month anomaly image below.

Tasmanian Life