State of the Climate Report shows an increase in extreme heat events, intense heavy rainfall, longer fire seasons and sea level rise
The State of the Climate Report 2022, released by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, has found changes to weather and climate extremes are happening at an increased pace across Australia.
The report, released every two years, shows an increase in extreme heat events, intense heavy rainfall, longer fire seasons and sea level rise.
The report draws on the latest climate monitoring, science and projection information to detail Australia’s changing climate now and into the future.
The Director of CSIRO’s Climate Science Centre, Dr Jaci Brown, said concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are at the highest levels seen on Earth in at least two million years.
“The concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are continuing to rise, and this is causing Australia’s climate to warm,” Dr Brown said, adding that the report documents the continuing acidification of the oceans around Australia, which have also warmed by more than one degree since 1900.
“The warming of our oceans is contributing to longer and more frequent marine heatwaves, and this trend is expected to continue into the future,” Dr Brown continued. “We’re seeing mass coral bleaching events more often, and this year, for the first time, we’ve seen a mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef during a La Niña year.”
The rate of sea level rise varies around Australia’s coastlines, but the north and south-east have experienced the most significant increases.
More heat extremes
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Manager of Climate Environmental Prediction Services, Dr Karl Braganza, said the report projected increases in air temperatures, more heat extremes and fewer cold extremes in coming decades.
“Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.47 degrees since 1910,” Dr Braganza said. “We’ve seen contrasting rainfall trends across the north and the south of the country.
“There’s been an overall decline in rainfall between April and October across southern Australia in recent decades, but in northern Australia, rainfall has increased across the region since the 1970s.”
During La Niña events in 2021-22, eastern Australia experienced one of its most significant flood periods ever observed. The report shows heavy rainfall events are becoming more intense and the number of short-duration heavy rainfall events is expected to increase in the future.
Dr Braganza said the length of fire seasons has increased across the country in recent decades.
“We’re expecting to see longer fire seasons in the future for the south and east, and an increase in the number of dangerous fire weather days,” he said.
State of the Climate 2022 is the seventh report in a series published biennially by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, which together play an integral role in monitoring, measuring and reporting on weather and climate.