Australians have been warned that the next two years will see an increase in extreme weather events including hotter days and longer, more severe bushfires with less rainfall to balance it all out. The sobering data comes directly from the biennial State of the Climate report in which leading experts at CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) monitor and report on the trends and driving factors to climate change.
According to the report, across the coming years, Australia’s climate will continue to get warmer and sea levels will rise due to an increase of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Dr Karl Braganza, manager of climate environmental prediction services at BOM, has said that the noticeable climate change and warming trends will inevitably result in increases in extreme fire weather including a longer bushfire season.
“There has been a significant increase in the frequency of dangerous fire weather days across Australia, particularly during spring and summer, leading to an earlier start to the southern fire season,” said Dr Braganza. “Climate change is influencing these trends through its impact on temperature, rainfall, and relative humidity, and the resulting change to the fuel moisture content.”
BOM has estimated that Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44C (±0.24C) between 1910 and 2019 while oceans have warmed by about one degree since 1910. Oceans have also become more acidic and fallen subject to longer and more frequent marine heatwaves.
The news is far from comforting for Australians who are still reeling from the impacts of the country’s warmest and driest 12 months on record in 2019 which saw intense droughts, record breaking high temperatures and the devastating ‘Black Summer’ bushfire season that tore around the country, most intensely in New South Wales and parts of southern Queensland.
The report also predicted a scattered rain pattern across the country with drier conditions expected in the southwest and southeast regions of Australia particularly during April to October, which could result in drought, while northern Australia is looking as though they’ll continue their run of increased rainfall that has been recorded throughout the decades.
Meanwhile, the rate of tropical cyclones are expected to drop in the future but experts predict when they do hit, they’ll hit hard with a greater proportion expected to be of high intensity with large variations from year to year.
These signals of climate change are said to impact everything from agriculture to water management and even the national economy. Dr Michael Battaglia, research director at CSIRO for agriculture and food has said that particular attention should be focussed on supporting farmers in navigating climate change risks to avoid disrupting the nation’s chain of work.
“Australian agriculture has already faced significant challenges and disruption from climate change, seen through record droughts, heatwaves and rising temperatures. The effects of these are widespread, impacting food production, supply chains, regional communities and consumer prices. Our farmers are resilient and capable, but climate change exposes them to significant risks.”
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