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Sunday the day of rest for fires, study suggests

November 20, 2015
University of Melbourne
Fires are more prevalent on a Tuesday and less likely on a Sunday, according to a new 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 percent 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 metereological 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 climate," Dr Earl says.

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Materials provided by University of Melbourne. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Nick Earl, Ian Simmonds, Nigel Tapper. 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

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University of Melbourne. "Sunday the day of rest for fires, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2015. <>.
University of Melbourne. (2015, November 20). Sunday the day of rest for fires, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from
University of Melbourne. "Sunday the day of rest for fires, study suggests." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 23, 2017).