Every two years, the Australian Bureau Of Meteorology releases its State of the Climate report. That happened yesterday. The main stuff in the report you need to know? We've summarised it below. But first we should talk about avocado toast.
Avocados mainly grow in northern NSW and southern Queensland, and along the WA coastline. Those areas are getting far less rain. Not sure how that'll affect their growth, but the toast picture is clearer. Toast is in trouble. If you look at the map above, Australia's wheat is grown right where our rainfall is dropping off most significantly -- as signified by the red blobs in the south of the country.
Toast is not toast yet, so to speak. Farmers have adapted by planting their crops a little earlier and so on, but the wheat industry is a prime example of an agricultural industry directly threatened by climate change -- and the changing weather patterns associated with it.
Here's a closer look at the graph.
And here's the report summary:
Yes, it's definitely getting warmer.
Australia's climate has warmed in both mean surface air temperature and surrounding sea surface temperature by around one degree celsius since 1910.
The duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across large parts of Australia.
You might like to join a volunteer bushfire brigade
There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.
It's getting drier in the south
As The Huffington Post Australia explained in May, entire weather patterns are shifting as the climate warms. Winter rainfall (which is when most of it falls) has reduced by around 19 per cent since 1970 in the southwest of Australia. The southeast has also seen a reduction. In a nutshell, the southern ocean storms that bring rain are consistently slipping further south.
And wetter in the north
Rainfall has increased across parts of northern Australia since the 1970s. This is consistent with more heat in the atmosphere and ocean
And speaking of the oceans
Oceans around Australia have warmed and ocean acidity levels have increased. Sea levels have also risen around Australia. The rise in mean sea level amplifies the effects of high tides and storm surges.
The BoM report also presents a bunch of global data, which can be summarised thus:
- Global average annual carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are steadily increasing; they reached 399 parts per million (ppm) in 2015, and the annual value for 2016 is almost certain to be higher than 400 ppm. Current levels are likely the highest in the past two million years.
- 2015 was the warmest year on record for the globe since reliable global surface air temperature records began in 1880. The last 15 years are among the 16 warmest years on record.
- Globally-averaged ocean temperatures and heat content are increasing. Observations reveal this warming extends to at least 2000 m below the surface.