Australian first in climate projections

The first Climate Futures for Tasmania technical report, which projects the State’s climate at a localised level until the end of this century, has been launched and its findings are being discussed with the communities who will use them. Six global climate models were used in the project, which leads Australia in the level of future climate detail it provides to communities. The models, used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), were ’dynamically downscaled’ to a fine-scale grid across Tasmania, taking into account complex landscapes and their interactions with weather. The models were then tested against real climate data (for example, temperature, rainfall, humidity and evaporation) from detailed weather observations taken across Tasmania. The Minister for Climate Change, Nick McKim, launched the General Climate Impacts Technical Report at the Outcomes and Opportunities Summit for users of the information on October 12. More than 100 senior government and industry leaders from 41 organisations participated in the summit, resulting in maximum exchange of information between the project researchers and those who will apply the information. The input of users - policymakers, local government representatives, infrastructure managers, farmers and emergency services, for example - has been a feature of the project from its beginning in March 2008. The project team sat with stakeholders in boardrooms, offices and paddocks, listened to what their climate information needs were, understood how their organisation functioned. End-users informed, guided and drove the research and the engagement activities. These activities were as much about the project team learning from the users, as they were the team ’teaching’ the users about climate science. The CEO of the ACE CRC, Dr Tony Press, said the information from the report allowed for judgments to be made about managing the impacts of climate change over this century, and the investments required in adaptation and mitigation. Dr Press and the project leader, Professor Nathan Bindoff, presented an overview of the project to the Primary Industries Ministerial Council in Sydney in November. Dr Press also presented the project outcomes to a Climate Change Adaptation Workshop for senior executives of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and the Bureau of Rural Science. In the months ahead a series of specific reports will be released, covering impacts on agriculture; extreme events; extreme tide and sea level events; severe wind and hazards; and water and catchments. The General Climate Impacts Technical Report found that:
  • Tasmania’s temperature is projected to rise by about 2.9 degrees C under high greenhouse gas emissions (the path that is being tracked at present) and 1.6 degrees Celsius under low greenhouse gas emissions. This is less than the projected global average temperature rise.
  • A pattern of increased coastal rainfall and reduced rainfall over central Tasmania will steadily emerge, but there is no significant change in the projected total annual rainfall for the state as a whole.
  • A significant increase in pan evaporation of up to 19% is projected, which is likely to impact on aspects of water availability. The increase in evaporation is greater in the north and west, and lower in the south and east.
  • Tasmanian temperatures have risen since the 1950s but at a slower rate than mainland Australia.
  • Tasmanian rainfall has declined since the 1970s.
The Climate Futures for Tasmania project is funded primarily by the State Government of Tasmania, the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities Program and Natural Disaster Mitigation Program. The project received additional funding support from Hydro Tasmania. Scientific leadership and contributions were made from a consortium of organisations including: Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Tasmania Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment, Tasmania State Emergency Service, Entura (formerly Hydro Tasmania Consulting), Geoscience Australia, Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Tasmanian Partnership for Advanced Computing, Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research and the University of Tasmania.

Authorised by the CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre October 2019.

The ACE CRC was established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

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