Earth Science Australia Faces Future Weather Blitz

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by helenheaven, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. helenheaven

    helenheaven Premium Member

    Australia could expect more frequent droughts, heatwaves, rainstorms and strong winds because of greenhouse gas-induced climate change, the country's main science research body warned.

    The report, by the federal body the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, forecast a doubling of the number of hot days above 35 degrees Celsius (95.00F) over 25 years in Australia's most populous and productive state, New South Wales (NSW).

    "It's really going to be living in an oven," NSW Premier Bob Carr told reporters in Sydney.

    "Global warming is an imminent, serious threat - one that can have significant costs for New South Wales. It will mean more frequent droughts, especially in winter, and more intense heavy rainstorms," he said.

    Carr was announcing results of a study commissioned by the NSW government, which is hosting an International Climate Change Taskforce meeting in Sydney.

    The 16-member group, brought together by think tanks, the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research, the Washington-based Center for American Progress and the Australia Institute in Canberra, is meeting on Monday and Tuesday to produce recommendations by early next year on ways to reduce greenhouse warming.

    A key aim is to gain the cooperation of Australia and the United States, which both refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement that set targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Under a worst-case scenario the frequency of drought could increase by 70 percent in New South Wales by 2030, the CSIRO study warned. NSW, the most heavily populated of Australia's states, has the biggest city of Sydney as its capital and is one of the nation's most important agricultural areas.

    The worst-case scenario also predicts most of the state, where many country centers now have roughly an average 20 days a year above 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), may have up to double that amount by 2030. Some spots of the state, such as Walgett in the northwest, may have as many as 150 days above that temperature by 2070.

    The number of days above 40 degrees Celsius (104.00F) for Walgett would rise from nine at present to 23 by 2030 and to 83 by 2070 on a worst-case scenario.

    Sydney's present three days a year of more than 35 degrees would double to six by 2030 and rise further to 18 by 2070 on the worst-case scenario.

    On best-case predictions, some key cropping areas, such as Gunnedah in the state's northwest, will only have 22 days above 35 degrees by 2035 and 29 by 2070, compared with the present 19.

    The study also says that while much of the state shows a tendency for drier seasons under increased greenhouse conditions, heavy rainstorms may also become more frequent.

    "There's only one way to avoid this worrying bundle of problems - cut greenhouse gas emissions," Carr said.

    Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute, said it was important the taskforce produced recommendations that allowed the United States and Australia to join efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Carr said trading markets in emissions were an important regulatory tool and that Australian states were examining establishing them.

    The taskforce is focusing on presenting recommendations to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who will head the G8 group of leading nations and the European Union in 2005.

    The taskforce is being co-chaired by Stephen Byers, a British Labour member of parliament and a former cabinet minister in the Blair government, and US Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.

    It includes representatives from Australia, the United States, Malaysia, France, Switzerland, Brazil and China.