Recent research from New South Wales University indicates that human influence on the climate has increased the Incidents of heatstroke and wildfires. Since the middle of the 20th century, their intensity, frequency and duration have increased around the world and these changes are occurring rapidly.
As per the report, Europe can witness heatwaves as hot as 10 °C more and some heatwave events will last up to two months, until the end of this century. A child born today may see an additional 30 to 50 episodes of heatstroke every year by the age of 80. Australia's southern states, such as Victoria and South Australia, which are already experiencing the most heat in the country, could see temperatures rise by up to four degrees Celsius. In the next 20 years alone, the United States will experience three to five additional heatwave events every decade compared to the latter half of the 20th century.
The incidence of heatstroke is closely related to drought. Normally, a large amount of energy from the sun goes into drying up the moisture in the landscape. But as the amount of moisture available for evaporation decreases during a drought, more energy is available to heat the air and the temperature rises. This can lead to a vicious cycle of increased evaporation and aridity of the land surface.
And of course, during times of heat and drought, forest fires will ignite more easily, be more intense and spread faster. The link between wildfires and heatwaves has been observed in many instances around the world. The 2019-20 fire cycle in Australia, known as the 'Black Summer', led to dramatic fires across vast areas of the populated eastern coastline. More heatwaves due to climate change, associated weather and climatic factors will increase the incidence of severe forest fires.
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