CSIRO/BOM report shows how climate change is and will be slugging Australia Media Release

Jan 27, 2015 - 11:00am

A new CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report released today shows the massive current and future climate impacts for Australia. The report highlights the need for ambitious post 2020 pollution reduction targets, a transition plan to decarbonise our economy and far greater integration of climate resilience in planning and assessment, the Climate Institute said today.

“This comprehensive report and interactive database from our premier scientific and weather agencies should reset the climate debate in Australia, it shows how climate change is and will be slugging Australia,” said John Connor, CEO The Climate Institute.

“This report graphically illustrates why it is in Australia’s national interest to drive ambitious climate action in its post-2020 climate action package due to be shared internationally by mid-year, ahead of the 2015 international climate negotiations in Paris.

“The report also shows why we should be planning an economic decarbonisation strategy as well as integrating climate resilience far more seriously into planning and approval processes.”

CSIRO and BoM find that climate change has already impacted Australia with a warming of almost1°C linked to rainfall changes, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

Further warming will push southern Australia into drought for longer periods, and droughts in the rest of the country will be more extreme. Fire weather will increase across southern and eastern Australia. Cyclones will become less frequent but more intense, and rainfall leading to flooding will also intensify. Seas will rise further and faster, and the water will become more acidic. (Summary below)

“The Australian government should be commended for making this report available. But it makes downright reckless the current Queensland government’s efforts to airbrush climate change from reports and actively remove sea level rise from planning instruments.”

“This new data reinforce earlier analysis for Treasury that showed large chunks of the Australian economy will be whacked by global warming. Under scenarios of un-, or part-checked pollution, sectors like agriculture, health, and ecosystems are hit well beyond their ability to adapt.”

“This shows starkly how deep pollution reductions and decarbonisation of the economy is squarely in Australia’s national interest—this needs to be the guiding principle in the government’s decision this year on Australia’s post-2020 pollution reduction targets.”

CSIRO report and data available at http://www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au/en/

CSIRO, key findings from http://apo.org.au/research/climate-change-australia below.

For more information

John Connor, CEO, The Climate Institute, 02 8239 6299


Overarching findings

Australia’s climate has already changed.

  1. It has become hotter since 1910, with warming across Australia of 0.9°C
  2. Rainfall has increased in northern Australia since the 1970s and decreased in south-east and south-west Australia
  3. More of Australia’s rain has come from heavy falls and there has been more extreme fire weather in southern and eastern Australia since the 1970s.
  4. Sea levels have risen by approximately 20cm since 1900.

Projections for Australia’s future climate vary regionally and depend on which of the four greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions scenarios is considered.

Overarching findings include:

  1. Australia’s average temperature will increase and we will experience more heat extremes and fewer cold extremes.
  2. Extreme rainfall events that lead to flooding are likely to become more intense.
  3. The number of tropical cyclones is projected to decrease but they may be more intense and reach further south.
  4. Southern and eastern Australia is projected to experience harsher fire weather.
  5. Sea levels will continue to rise throughout the 21st century and beyond.
  6. Oceans around Australia will warm and become more acidic.


  • Australian average temperature has increased by 0.9° C since 1910.
  • We have seen more hot days and less cold days.
  • Temperatures will continue to increase over the 21st century.
  • The extent of those increases will depend on global emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols.
  • By late in the century (2090), Australian average temperature is projected to increase by 0.6 to 1.7°C for a low emission scenario, or 2.8 to 5.1°C under a high emission scenario.
  • Hot days are projected to occur more frequently while there will be fewer frost days.


  • Winter and spring rainfall in southern Australia is projected to decline while changes in other areas are uncertain.
  • For the rest of Australia, natural climate variability will predominate over rainfall trends caused by increasing greenhouse gases until 2030. By 2090, a winter rainfall decrease is expected in eastern Australia.
  • Overall, extreme rain events are projected to become more intense.
  • This finding is consistent across Australia even in areas where average rainfall is projected to decrease or the average direction of change is uncertain. This is largely due to the ability of a warmer atmosphere to hold more water.
  • However, the projected reduction in average rainfall in south-west Western Australia may be so strong as to weaken this extreme rainfall tendency.


  • The time in drought will increase over southern Australia, with a greater frequency of severe droughts.
  • The time in drought and the frequency of extreme droughts may increase elsewhere in Australia.
  • A projected increase in evaporation rates will contribute to a reduction in soil moisture across Australia

Tropical cyclones

  • Tropical cyclones may occur less often; however they will likely be more intense.


  • There will be a decrease in snowfall, an increase in snowmelt and thus reduced snow cover.

Fire Weather

  • Southern and eastern Australia are projected to experience harsher fire weather, including an increase in the number of days with a ‘severe’ fire danger rating.
    Projections for fire weather in northern Australia and inland areas are less certain.

 Sea level rise

  • Sea levels will continue to rise throughout the 21st century and beyond.
  • Projections of sea level rise for the Australian coastline by late in the century (2090) are comparable to, or slightly larger than, the projected global mean sea level rise of up to 82 cm under a high emission scenario.
  • A collapse in the marine based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet could make sea level rise projections several tenths of a metre higher by late in the century.
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