Due to global warming, massive fires covering half a million acres are burning in the eastern part of the Australian state of Victoria. In a desperate attempt to prevent them from combining into a superfire that would rank as one of the largest conflagrations in modern history, the Australian army has been mobilized to support firefighters.

Australian government spokeswoman Rachaele May stated that offcials believed that there was still a significant chance that the fires would merge. Fires are common during the dry months in Australia, but the hundred year drought the country is now enduring have made this fire season exceptionally dangerous. The current drought is the worst on record in the history of Victoria. Melbourne is blanketed by thick smoke, and residents are being urged to stay indoors. Flights are being delayed and some are being diverted to other airports.

The Australian drought is believed to be a result of a phenomenon similar to the one causing the current drought in the Amazon basin. Warming water temperatures have caused a change in the way water vapor is formed in the ocean regions that normally provide rainfall to both areas, with the result that less of the rising water vapor becomes clouds, and so there is less rainfall.

There is no indication that the drought in either area will end, and it is likely that extraordinary drought disasters will develop in both Australia and Brazil over the next few years.

Art credit: NASA

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