Serious bushfires will rage for longer, heavy rains will become more common and sweltering heatwaves will devastate communities across Australia, according to the country’s latest climate snapshot.
The State of the Climate 2022 report, issued by CSIRO and the Met Office, reveals that the continent is 1.47°C warmer than it was in 1910.
In addition, sea surface temperatures have increased by an average of 1.05°C since 1900, and sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate.
And while Australia experienced one of the most significant periods of flooding ever observed during the La Niña event over the past two years, there has generally been a decrease in precipitation between April and October across southern Australia in recent decades.
This contributes to longer fire seasons, according to Carl Braganza of the Met Office.
“We expect to see longer fire seasons in the future in the south and east and an increase in the number of hazardous fire weather days,” said Dr. Braganza.
The changes have been driven by rising levels of greenhouse gases, mostly by burning fossil fuels, with emissions returning to pre-Covid-19 levels.
The report made for “frustrating” reading, but “it’s not news news,” said CSIRO’s Center for Climate Science Research Director Jess Brown.
“Climate change is with us and it will continue, and the point of this report is to remind everyone that we need to be prepared,” she told ABC News.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersk said the importance of the report was that it was a “call to action”.
“And that’s why our government has taken action to legislate stronger ambitions to reduce carbon pollution,” she told ABC News.
It reminds us that we need to prepare for the worst. You already have governments talking about future land use change, how to better prepare our emergency services, how to better prepare our health system for extreme events.
“Global action will be taken. We need to do our part here in Australia.”
Already the threats of climate change are having a widespread impact on the industry, affecting food production and supply chains, said Michael Robertson, director of agriculture and food at CSIRO.
“Historically, the sector has shown its ability to adapt to changes in climate, but we at CSIRO have an important role to play in helping our farmers build on this, and overcome increasing climate risks to ensure the long-term viability of rural enterprises and communities.”
Monash University Associate Professor Ellie Gallant said the report provided “clear evidence” that Australia’s climate was changing, and warned that “deep and resolute reductions” in carbon emissions were urgently needed.
“Although in the past three years high rainfall associated with the biodiversity across the La Nina River has prevailed in the north of the country, the report shows that the decrease in precipitation in the south during the colder months has taken hold,” she said.
“Many of the trends described in this report will continue without deep and aggressive reductions in carbon emissions.”
In releasing its report, the CSIRO said Australia needed to plan for the coming decades and that the severity of the impacts on the country “will depend on the speed with which global greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced”.
Originally published as CSIRO report reveals more severe weather, hotter days, longer wildfire season, less snow