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New climate report from CSIRO is ‘hot’


The latest State of the Climate report from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is literally ‘hot’ for it predicts increases in the frequency or intensity of heat events, fire weather and drought across Australia.

The report [PDF] points out that Australia’s climate has warmed in both mean surface air temperature and surrounding sea surface temperature by around 1 °C since 1910 and while mitigation steps are required, one of the key requirements is the need to adapt to this climate change to a certain extent. The report also points out that the duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across large parts of Australia.

Some other findings of the report include: increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s; reduction in May–July rainfall by around 19 per cent since 1970 in the
southwest of Australia; decline of around 11 per cent since the mid-1990s in the April–October growing season rainfall in the continental southeast; increase in rainfall across parts of northern Australia since the 1970s; warming of oceans around Australia and increase in ocean acidity levels; increase in sea levels around Australia, which in turn amplifies the effects of high tides and storm surges.

Prediction for the next few decades suggests an increase in Australian temperatures with more extremely hot days and fewer extremely cool days; increase in number of days with weather conducive to fire in southern and eastern Australia; decrease in winter and spring rainfall across southern continental Australia, with more time spent in drought; further warming of ocean temperature due to greenhouse gas emissions; continued increase in sea-levels and ocean acidification around Australia.

Senior Scientist at CSIRO and leader of the National Environmental Science Program’s Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub, Helen Cleugh said carbon dioxide was measured in parts per million.

“Before around 1750, the level of CO2 was 278ppm,” Dr Cleugh said. “This year the Earth will record a global annual average of over 400ppm, the highest level in the past two million years.”

She said Australian temperatures would almost certainly continue to increase over the coming decades.