Bushfires And Heatwave: Is Australia Next For Extreme Weather?

The globe has been gripped by weather extremes and it's just a matter of time before it reaches Australia.

Extreme temperatures have gripped parts of the northern hemisphere with hundreds of people dying due to rising heat, dry conditions and wildfires.

The summer heat is widespread across parts of Asia and Europe with Britons told to stay indoors and Japan declaring a natural disaster after weeks of temps hitting nearly 40 degrees.

Deadly wildfires have broken out in Sweden and Greece. The fires in Greece are the worst the nation has seen in the past decade. Seventy four people have lost their lives in the blaze that has torn through towns and destroyed homes and cars.

Japan has declared the heatwave a natural disaster. Image: Getty Images.
Is Australia Next?

Probably.

Australia is one of the driest continents in the world, second only to Antarctica. Due to this, Australia is already accustomed to managing climate events like bushfires and high temperatures.

"Australia is at the vanguard of impacts in terms of impacts of climate change and has been for a while," Nigel Tapper, Professor of Environmental Science at Monash University, told ten daily. 

Despite this, Tapper said Australians should be prepared for bushfires and heatwaves this summer.

"This year in particular … Eastern Australia is very dry and we have had a very dry winter … and the prognosis is that it will continue to remain dry," Tapper said. 

"What that means is the forests will have already dried out very, very early. We are likely to have a significant and early fire season."

READ MORE: The 'Quiet' Drought That Has Snuck Up On Our Doorstep

READ MORE: The Haunting Poem That Is The Silent Face Of Drought

Australia's winter has been dry, setting the precedent for an even drier summer. Image: Getty Images.

While there's been bushfires and high temperatures across multiple countries and continents at the same time, Tapper says it is hard to link them all to climate change.

While one trend can be found in the changing of average temperatures, extremes of both hot and cold are also growing more and more diverse.

"It is often difficult to link specific events to climate change, however the broard impact of climate change is that we are more likely to see those events [bushfires, high temperatures, droughts]," Tapper said. 

Average temperature is changing but the extremes are changing more rapidly than the average.

So while there is no concrete evidence linking the bushfires in Greece to those in Sweden or the Japanese and Canadian heat, there sure have been plenty of extreme weather events.

Let's check out what has been happening around the globe.

Japan And South Korea

Japan's weather agency declared the heatwave sweeping the country a natural disaster on Tuesday. On Monday, a 41.1 degree day was recorded in the city of Kumagaya -- the highest temperature in the nation's history.

Sixty-five people have died as a result of the intense heat and more than 22,000 people have been taken to hospital with heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses.

Central Toyko is also recording temperatures of over 40 degrees, the first time in history it's been that hot in the city.

But it doesn't look like it will be getting much better any time soon, with the Japan Meteorological Agency predicting temperatures of at least 35 degrees continuing until early August.

The heatwave is set to continue into early August. Image: Getty Images.

Ten people have died in South Korea of heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses. More than 1,000 people have fallen ill between May 20 and July 21 as a result of the heat, according to Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

England

Temperatures are only getting hotter in England as the mercury soared to 30 degrees. Monday was the hottest day in 2018 with temperatures hitting 33.3 degrees in Suffolk and expected to rise to 34 on Thursday.

Brits have been told to stay out of direct sunlight in a joint statement by the NHS, Public Health England and the Met Office. People have been told heatwave conditions will remain until at least Friday, when a thunderstorm is forecast.

That's sure to cool things down.

People in England have been told to stay out of direct sunlight. Image: Getty Images.
Greece

Seventy-four people have been killed and 187 injured in the worst wildfires Greece has seen in a decade. The blaze tore through coastside resorts and towns near Athens on Tuesday, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Authorities said they found a group of 26 people dead after huddling together in their final moments, unable to flee the blaze. Others tried to leave the area by car but were trapped on roads congested by hundreds of others trying to do the same. Some people scrambled to the safety of the water to avoid the fire.

Houses, cars and entire villages were burned and Greece's PM Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of national mourning to remember those who lost their lives.

74 people lost their lives in the Greece fires. Image: AAP.
Sweden, FinLand and Norway

Last week there were 80 wildfires burning throughout Sweden's countryside, but now there are just 21. While authorities have worked tirelessly to extinguish the blazes, they fear more fires will break out due to high temperatures expected to stay well above 30 degrees.

On Monday 25,000 hectares of bushland was still ablaze -- a fire that is significantly larger than the 14,000 hectare blaze that engulfed the Västmanland areas back in 2014. This was Sweden's most serious fire in 40 years at the time.

Parts of Finland's north have been affected by fires near their border with Russia, and Norway has had it's hottest May temperatures on record. One Norwegian firefighter died in July trying to contain a fire.

21 fires are still ablaze in Sweden. Image: Getty Images.
Canada

Seventy people died in Canada's Quebec province in early July due to uncharacteristically hot temperatures hitting the region.

Thirty-four deaths occurred in the city of Montreal alone and the city's public health office said the majority of people who died were aged over 60 and suffering from other illnesses.

Temperatures have since returned to normal, with top temperatures forecast at 27 degrees.