Although there are natural causes of wildfires, such as lightning strikes, most of them are started by people. Because of high temperatures and dry conditions, they rapidly grow out of control. So far, this year has been exceptional in a number of locations across the world.
I have been fortunate enough to travel widely through my career as a climate scientist – taking in aircraft campaigns in Senegal and Italy, and conferences everywhere from China to Hawaii. However, until recently, I had not ventured out of the Northern Hemisphere! All that changed in August thanks to an invitation from the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) to share in the celebrations of their 30th anniversary. And so I found myself on a very long plane journey to Melbourne. The flight, though long, was not as bad as I expected.