Two dozen people and an estimated 480 million animals have been killed in Australia during unprecedented early-season bushfires that have scorched 18 million acres, destroyed thousands of homes and shrouded cities in thick smoke. University of Colorado Boulder experts are available to discuss the impacts on endangered wildlife, human health and air quality.
Wildlife impacts: Brett Melbourne, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, grew up in Southeast Australia and is co-principal investigator for one of the longest-term ecological studies in the world there. Melbourne is an expert in Australian biodiversity and can discuss the potential impacts of the fire on the continent’s many endangered species.
“Even if these animals survive the fire, they now face the challenge of living in an extremely different environment and not being able to find food. Just the size and scale of this is so unprecedented, it is almost certain some species will go extinct.” Contact: [email protected]
Wildfire smoke and health: Colleen Reid, assistant professor of geography, studies how climate change affects human health, including how air pollution from wildfire smoke influences respiratory health. Contact: [email protected]
Air quality: Christine Wiedinmyer is the associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research In Environmental Sciences (CIRES). She’s an atmospheric scientist who studies wildfires and the impacts of their emissions on air quality and climate. Contact: [email protected]
On social consequences: Lori Peek is director of the Natural Hazards Center and studies children, low-income families, and other potentially vulnerable populations in the aftermath of disaster. She traveled to Australia after the deadly 2009 Bushfires that killed 173 people. Contact: [email protected] (after Jan. 11).
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