Showing posts with label drought. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drought. Show all posts

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Forecasting a dangerous present and devastating future for Australia

“Background warming associated with anthropogenic climate change has seen Australian annual mean temperature increase by approximately 1.1 °C since 1910. Most of this warming has occurred since 1950.” [Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Annual Climate Statement 2017]

Bloomberg, 10 January 2018:

The road-melting heatwave that made Sydney the hottest place on Earth at the weekend may just be a taste of things to come. 

Temperatures in Australia are set to rise until around 2050 due to greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere, according to the country’s weather bureau

“Australia is one country where you really can see the signal of global warming,” Karl Braganza, the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate monitoring, told reporters on a call. “We’ve locked the degree of warming in until mid-century and that means it’s likely that one of the next strong El Nino events in the coming decade or two will set a new record.”

Western Sydney touched 47.3 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday and 2017 was Australia’s third-hottest year on record. Heat and drought risk devastating crops in Australia, the world’s third-largest exporter of cotton where farm production is forecast to be worth A$59 billion ($46 billion) this financial year.

The Heat is On
Australia has had just one cooler-than-average year since 2005
Since 2005, Australia has notched up seven of its 10 warmest years, the weather bureau said in its annual climate statement.

More heatwaves could stress a power grid that’s struggled to cope with demand as people crank up air-conditioning during the scorching summer months.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology Annual Climate Statement 2017, issued January 2018.

Visible impacts in 2018.................

The Guardian, 9 January 2018:

More than 400 animals have died in one colony alone as temperatures soar above 47C, causing exhaustion and dehydration

Mounds of dead flying foxes in Campbelltown suburb of Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Facebook/Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Stocktake of waterbirds in eastern Australia has shown the lowest breeding level on record

ABC News 27 December 2015:

A stocktake of waterbirds in eastern Australia has shown the lowest breeding level on record.
The annual aerial survey, conducted by the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, confirmed a dramatic long-term decline in the number of waterbirds.
Director Richard Kingsford said that over 33 years of counting, average numbers had fallen more than 60 per cent.
The trend continued in 2015 with a further drop compared to the previous three-to-five-year period.
"This is the second lowest number of waterbirds we've seen in that 33-year period and it's symptomatic of the real impacts of this drought that's occurring across the eastern half of the continent," Professor Kingsford said.
The survey covered all the major rivers, lakes and wetlands from Queensland down through New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, including the Murray-Darling Basin and the Riverina.
The team found the Macquarie Marshes and Lowbidgee wetlands were only partially filled, most rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin were also relatively dry, with little wetland habitat on their floodplains, and all the large lakes in the Menindee system were dry.
The Lake Eyre and Cooper Creek wetlands were mostly dry except for a small area to their east, while important wetlands in the Lake Eyre Basin including Lakes Galilee, Yamma Yamma, Torquinnie and Mumbleberry were dry.
Waterbirds were concentrated in relatively few important sites, with only four wetland systems holding more than 5,000 birds: Lake Killapaninna, Lake Allallina, Paroo overflow Lakes and Coolmunda Dam.
Most alarmingly, the total breeding index of all 50 species combined was the lowest on record and well below the long-term average……
Professor Kingsford said climate change also needed to be taken into account.
"For these wetlands, they rely on that water staying around so animals and plants can go through their life cycles, but if you've got less of the water actually coming in at the top end and when it gets to the wetland there's a high evaporation rate then it's really challenging in the long term as well," he said.
"So a whole series of targets have been set and the big challenge is: did we get enough water for the environment over the next 15 to 20 years?"
He warned that if the regulators did not find the right balance, the wider community would pay a hefty price.
"We know in the millennium drought, for example, when there wasn't enough water for the Lower Lakes and the Coorong, governments had to put their hands in their pockets to spend $2 billion to actually rescue that system," Professor Kingsford said.
"We currently have a dredge parked in the mouth of the River Murray which is trying to keep it open — a service that the environment used to do for nothing, and that's costing taxpayers up to $100,000 a week."
He said the birds were a barometer, indicating declining health of the whole ecosystem.

Blogging the 2015 Aerial Survey.

Click on the survey route to read a blog post or the arrow button on the top lefthand side to access the list of blogs.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Watching the weather with bated breath......

Photograph: Queensland Country Life 24 January 2014

The world’s meteorologists and climate experts are watching closely for another burst of westerly winds across the Pacific that could trigger the first El Nino weather pattern since 2009-2010.

“Basically it is primed for a strong El Nino, but it needs the final push,” said Axel Timmermann, the professor of oceanography at the international Pacific research centre, University of Hawaii. “This is perhaps the most-watched El Nino of all time.”

The weather watch comes as winter remains largely at bay for much of Australia. Sydney and Melbourne broke heat records during autumn and maximums in both cities have been about 2-3 degrees above average for June.

This week, Sydney can expect tops most days of 20-22 degrees, or about 3-5 degrees above normal, while Melbourne's maximums will be 1-2 degrees above the June average of 14 degrees, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

An El Nino could make this year another warm one for Australia. Last year was the country's warmest in more than a century of records.

El Ninos form when waters in the eastern Pacific turn unusually warm compared with the west, stalling or reversing the easterly trade winds. The pattern is a major driver of the world’s climate and can trigger droughts and bushfires in Australia and east Asia, while bringing heavy rains to countries bordering the eastern Pacific……

National Climate Centre Drought Statement 4 June 2014