Yesterday saw the release of the third biennial “State of the Climate” report from the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). Nothing much seems to have improved in the past two years and it doesn’t paint as pretty picture of our “sunburnt country”…
Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910, and the frequency of extreme weather has changed, with more extreme heat. Rainfall has declined since 1970 in the southwest, dominated by reduced winter rainfall. Autumn and early winter rainfall has mostly been below average in the southeast since 1990.
It would seem that extreme fire weather has increased, and the fire season has lengthened, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s – sorry Tony Abbott, it appears Christiana Figueres, the Head of the UNFCCC, was not “talking through her hat” to link the early bushfires in NSW with Climate Change!
We can expect more “droughts and flooding rains” as per Dorothea Mackellar’s poem with average rainfall in southern Australia projected to decrease, and heavy rainfall projected to increase over most parts of Australia. This sounds contradictory but is borne out by the science which says that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture i.e. it must get more saturated before rain will occur and, when it does rain, that rain is more intense.
We can also expect sea-level rise and ocean acidification to continue unabated and, in fact, recently the rate of sea-level rise has increased.