When the first European settlers arrived in Australia in the 17th century, they observed a strange farming practice among the natives. The aborigines routinely burned grasslands and vegetation in many parts of northern Australia during the cool months of the dry season between winter monsoons. These controlled burns were intended to help stimulate regrowth during the upcoming rainy period. But they may have also inadvertently caused the end of that summer dry spell to be much warmer and drier than normal, a new study suggests.
Story: Sid Perkins, Science Magazine | Photo: Lindsay Brown/Lonely Planet Images/Newscom