Sunday the day of rest for fires, study suggests

November 20, 2015 by Crystal Ja, University of Melbourne
Sunday the day of rest for fires, study suggests
New research out of the University of Melbourne draws a link between religion and the incidence of fire around the world

Fires are more prevalent on a Tuesday and less likely on a Sunday, according to a new University of Melbourne study, which highlights the dramatic effect humans, religion and culture have on the global climate.

Climate scientist Dr Nick Earl, from the University's School of Earth Sciences, found fires around the world appear to be strongly influenced by the working week and particularly days of rest associated with religion.

Of the more than a billion global fires that burned between the years 2001 and 2013, Sunday was the least active day with only 104 million fires.

That's nine million fewer fires, or eight per cent less, than the number of fires on a Tuesday – the middle of the working week.

"This study shows there's a very clear weekly pattern to fires around the world," says Dr Earl.

"Nature doesn't adhere to the weekly cycle, so this really highlights the influence we have on the planet when it comes to fires."

Studying weekly cycles – a human concept - in meteorological variables is a common point of research, since it allows scientists to examine the level of human influence on nature.

Dr Earl's study is the first time the seven-day weekly cycle has been analysed in relation to global fires.

While the weekly cycle was pronounced for Australia and the US, Dr Earl found the weekend minimum rate of fires was not consistent across the world.

For instance, areas with higher Muslim populations, such as the Kazakhstan region had Thursday and Friday minimums.

"But Friday is the 'day of assembly' and prayer for the Muslim faith, so it actually strengthens the argument for how religion impacts our ," Dr Earl says.

Explore further: Peat fires in Sumatra strengthen in El Nino years

More information: Nick Earl et al. Weekly cycles of global fires - associations with religion, wealth and culture, and insights into anthropogenic influences on global climate, Geophysical Research Letters (2015). DOI: 10.1002/2015GL066383

Related Stories

2015 becomes worst US wildfire year on record

October 14, 2015

Wildfires in the western United States have made 2015 the country's most devastating fire year since at least 1960, despite the relatively small number of individual fires.

Image: Unusually large number of fires across Alaska

June 30, 2015

The fire situation in Alaska is very dynamic at this time. As of June 29, 2015, there are 314 active fires in the State. Many fires in remote areas are unstaffed. The fire summary for Alaska is as follows: 2 new fires with ...

NASA image: Canadian wildfires continue

July 2, 2015

Canada is reeling from an early fire season this year as dozens of fires ravage at least three provinces of the country. All of the following reports are as of July 2, 2015.

NASA image: Fires in China Oct. 18, 2013

October 18, 2013

Shuangyashan is a coal mining prefecture-level city located in the eastern part Heilongjiang province, People's Republic of China, bordering Russia's Khabarovsk and Primorsky krais to the east.

Recommended for you

Semimetals are high conductors

March 18, 2019

Researchers in China and at UC Davis have measured high conductivity in very thin layers of niobium arsenide, a type of material called a Weyl semimetal. The material has about three times the conductivity of copper at room ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Nov 20, 2015
That's nine million fewer fires, or eight per cent less, than the number of fires on a Tuesday – the middle of the working week.

Since when has Wednesday not been the middle of the working week with Monday and Tuesday behind and Thursday and Friday in front. Indeed, Saturday is a work day for many people making the middle later on Wednesday...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.