KANGAROO ISLAND BUSHFIRES
Scientists have backed federal minister Karen Andrews' call for Australians to stop debating whether climate change is "real" and get to work on dealing with the serious threat it poses.
The science minister met with representatives of the science and technology community in Canberra on Wednesday, as the federal government sought advice on how best to handle Australia's bushfire crisis now and into the future.
Before the meeting, Ms Andrews said it was "time for everyone to move on" from debating climate change.
"Let's accept that the climate has changed, the climate is changing and we need to look at what we're going to do about that," she told ABC radio.
The meeting heard there was a trend towards more dangerous conditions during summer and an earlier start to the fire season, particularly in parts of southern and eastern Australia.
These trends are very likely to increase into the future, with climate models showing more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires throughout Australia.
A spokesman for the CSIRO, which was represented at the meeting, told AAP climate change had undoubtedly resulted in more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires in recent decades for many regions of Australia.
"Australia has warmed by just over 1degC since 1910, with most warming since 1950. This warming has seen an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events and increased the severity of drought conditions during periods of below-average rainfall.
"Eight of Australia's top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2005."
Science and Technology Australia president Jeremy Brownlie said the nation needed high quality scientific expertise as it sought to recover and rebuild from the fires, which to date have taken 28 lives and destroyed more than 2000 homes.
Associate Professor Brownlie backed Ms Andrews' warning that "every second spent discussing if climate change is real is a second we don't spend addressing these issues".
"We owe it to communities on the frontline of these terrifying bushfires to make every effort and deploy every piece of expertise and resource to tackle this existential challenge," he said.
"Australia has deep research capabilities in bushfire mitigation, climate change, managing biodiversity, sustaining our wildlife populations and ecosystems, water catchment management, and the physical and mental health of our communities."
The minister expressed interest in the CSIRO's Spark bushfire prediction software, which could help frontline firefighters.
"So, for example, firies will be able to have something in their back pocket that they can then take out and go, 'Okay, well this is where we need to be going next because this is the important fire. Is that fire about to jump a break? Is it going to come across a creek or a road?'
"So they can put the resources that they need to on a real time basis. That's probably a bit of a missing link at the moment."
Roadside signage could also be improved, taking into account a greater depth of information about fire risk.