Bushfires might have been replaced by La Nina-induced flooding over recent years in Australia but scientists say the fire risk is still worsening.
Extreme fire weather days have increased in Australia by 56 per cent over the last four decades, according to new research from an international team of scientists, including CSIRO.
That research shows the length of Australia's fire season has risen by 27 extra days over the past 41 years - from 1979-2019.
CSIRO researcher Dr Pep Canadell said the rise in fire weather trends translated to an increase in the number of Australian bushfires.
"Australia has always experienced extreme bushfires, but the Black Summer of 2019/2020 highlighted an increasing trend in fire activity," Dr Canadell said.
"These new findings show that the whole of Australia has seen an increase in extreme fire weather events and extreme fire days over the last four decades."
While the Australian fire season has increased by 20pc over the past 40 years, globally, the average increase was found to be 27pc.
The frequency of days with extreme fire weather globally averaged a 54pc rise over the same 40-year period, compared with Australia's increase of 56pc.
The length of the fire season increases has been particularly pronounced in western North America, Amazonia and the Mediterranean.
"Fire weather has risen significantly in most regions around the world since the 1980s, primarily due to the impacts of climate change," Dr Canadell said.
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"Australia's highly variable fire weather conditions contribute to annual variability in fire activity, however, we are seeing over time a clear increase in the fire season and fire weather trend," he said.
"Long-term climate change is driving the increasing trends."
Dr Canadell said the study demonstrated the importance of understanding how trends in fire weather could help first responders, policy makers, and the community better prepare for, and respond to bushfires.
Under future climate change scenarios, an increase in global mean temperatures from 1.5C to 4C by 2100 could result in the fire season length extending from 11 to 36 additional days (11pc to 37pc) compared with current conditions.
The research involved scientists from UEA, Swansea University, the University of Exeter and Met Office in the UK.
It builds on research published late last year which combined analysis of previous forest fire sites with eight drivers of fire activity including climate, fuel accumulation, ignition and management (prescribed burning).
This research received funding from the Australian National Environmental Science Program - Climate Systems Hub.
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