Longer, hotter summers predicted in extreme weather report by Climate Council
Summers will be hotter, longer and heatwaves more frequent in the coming decades, thanks to global warming. Picture: Scott Fletcher
IMAGINE a city where 265 days a year, the temperature rises above 35C.
The residents of Darwin in 2090 will not have to imagine it, because for them, it may well be their reality.
As Australians endure the summer of the seemingly never-ending heatwave, a new report from the Climate Council essentially has one message.
Get used to it.
If the country’s greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, it’s going to get much worse.
A comparison of heatwaves in Australian cities from 1950 to 1980 and 1981 to 2011.Source:Supplied
The independent research body predicts a rapid rise in extreme heat in Australia in the next 73 years, with heatwaves in all Australian capital cities predicted to start earlier and last longer as the effects of greenhouse gas emissions bite in the next decade.
But it is the Australia inhabited by this generation’s grandchildren, 2090, where the heat will really be on, if greenhouse gas emissions worldwide fail to meet current reduction targets.
By that year the report predicts Darwin will have a staggering 265 days each year above 35C.
The current average is 11.
The predictions are also frightening in other Australian cities.
Brisbane is tipped to swelter through nearly two months of temperatures above 35C each year, well up on its current 12.
In Sydney, the number is predicted to rise to 11 from the current three, while in Canberra, it is forecast to rise from seven to 29.
In Melbourne, the number will go from 11 to 24, while Adelaide is predicted to rise from 20 to 47.
Rainfall is also tipped to increase in volume and frequency in Australia as the world warms in the next decades.Source:News Corp Australia
Over in the west, Perth’s extremely hot days are tipped to go from the current 28 to 63.
The projections are based on the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia.
Should the Paris climate agreement target of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels be met by drastically cutting worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, the report says the extreme weather events can be halted before then.
But it is a different story for the next couple of decades.
“Extreme weather events are very likely to become more intense and destructive over the next couple of decades because of the climate change that is already locked in from past greenhouse gas emissions,” the report says.
“But the severity of extreme weather events that our children and grandchildren will face later this century depends on how fast and how deeply greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced now, next year and over the next couple of decades.
“If the world can meet the Paris 2C target, the trend towards more severe extreme weather can be slowed and then halted in the second half of the century.”
In addition to rising heat, the report warns other extreme weather events will worsen.
“Extreme heat is projected to increase across the entire continent, with significant increases in the length, intensity and frequency of heatwaves in many regions,” it says.
Australian droughts are predicted to increase and last longer. Picture: Lisa Maree WilliamsSource:istock
“The time spent in drought is projected to increase across Australia, especially in southern Australia.
“Extreme drought is expected to increase in both frequency and duration.
“Southern and eastern Australia are projected to experience harsher fire weather.
“The intensity of extreme rainfall events is projected to increase across most of Australia.
“The increase in coastal flooding from high sea level events will become more frequent and more severe as sea levels continue to rise.”
Oceans will also warm, contributing to increased coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, and rainfall is tipped to increase by between 10 to 30 per cent.
Cyclones in the tropics are predicted to become less frequent, but those that hit are expected to be of higher intensity, similar to that of the category five Cyclone Yasi that destroyed parts of Far North Queensland in 2009.
Tropical cyclones will be less frequent but those that do form will be of much higher intensity, such as 2009’s Cyclone Yasi. Picture: Jonathan WoodSource:News Corp Australia
Australia, one of the most vulnerable of all countries to the impacts of climate change, is also one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the report says.
The authors warn a switch to renewable energy is vital to stem the impact.
“The impacts of extreme weather events will likely become much worse unless global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced rapidly and deeply,” it says
“Burning of coal, oil and gas is causing temperatures to rise at unprecedented rates and is making extreme weather events more intense, damaging and costly.
“While the emissions of our closest allies and trading partners are flatlining or even declining, Australia’s emissions are still rising.
“Given its position as one of the top 15 greenhouse gas emitters out of nearly 200 countries, Australia is expected to do its fair share of meeting the global emissions reduction challenge.
“We are on track to miss even our very weak target of a 26-28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.”
Conditions for severe bushfires in the southern states are also expected to worsen. Picture: Lachie MillardSource:News Corp Australia
EXTREME HEAT PREDICTIONS FOR AUSTRALIAN STATES
In Brisbane, the number of hot days (more than 35C) per year is projected to increase from 12 to 18 per year by 2030 (relative to 1981-2010 climate), increasing to 55 per year by 2090 under a high emissions scenario.
In Sydney, the number of hot days per year are projected to increase from 3 to 4 per year by 2030, increasing to 11 per year by 2090.
In Canberra, the number of hot days per year is projected to increase from 7 to 12 per year by 2030, increasing to 29 per year by 2090 under a high emissions scenario. Earlier projections using data from BoM and CSIRO show that for the 2000-2009 period, the number of hot days in Canberra has already exceeded the earlier 2030 projections.
In Melbourne, the number of hot days per year is projected to increase from 11 to 13 per year by 2030, increasing to 24 by 2090 under a high emissions scenario. The number of hot days in Melbourne has already exceeded the earlier 2030 projections.
In Adelaide, the number of hot days per year is projected to increase from 20 to 26 per year by 2030, increasing to 47 per year by 2090 under a high emissions scenario. The number of hot days in Adelaide has already exceeded the earlier 2030 projections.
In Perth, the number of hot days per year is projected to increase from 28 to 36 per year by 2030, increasing to 63 per year by 2090 under a high emissions scenario.
In Darwin, the number of hot days per year is projected to increase from 11 to 43 per year by 2030, increasing to 265 per year by 2090 under a high emissions scenario. In Alice Springs, the number of hot days per year is projected to increase, relative to the 1981-2010 climate, from 94 to 113 by 2030, increasing to 168 by 2090 under a high emissions scenario.