Our research in action
The ACE CRC’s Climate Futures for Tasmania project has hit top gear and the results are being published and distributed in Tasmania, and nationally.
The project has used Tasmania’s unique assemblage of researchers and community networks to help the State get on the front foot in having realistic climate change projections to inform decisions about the future.
The Tasmanian Minister for Climate Change, Nick McKim, launched the first report, General Climate Impacts, on October 12 in Hobart at the "Outcomes and Opportunities Summit" held for end users of Climate Futures for Tasmania information. The summit was held on the first day of the highly successful ANZ Climate Forum (see below). A series of specific reports will follow in the months ahead, in the areas of agriculture; extreme tide and sea level events; severe wind and hazards; and water and catchments. From conception, the CFT project was designed to understand and integrate the impacts of climate change on Tasmania’s weather, water catchments, agriculture and climate extremes. This required a robust model of Tasmania’s climate future, for which the researchers processed twice the amount of data than was used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to model global climate.
In setting up the project a great deal of effort went in to discussing with ’end users’ what they wanted to know about climate change in their area of business, and what climate variables were important to them. In the reports to come the results of the scientific modelling will be presented in a way that can be used to guide future decisions for specific areas of the Tasmanian economy. Not many climate modellers would have begun their research by using information about how to grow Pinot Noir in a scientific study of climate change, for example.
End users from across the research, policy, government and industry communities will not only be informed of the results of the research, but will be part of discussions about how the results can be used in responding to climate change.
The importance of the Climate Futures for Tasmania report cannot be underestimated. Global greenhouse gas emissions have already ’locked in’ a general increase in temperature across Tasmania. With the emissions path the world is currently travelling, however, Tasmania is coming very close to the report’s projection that by the end of this century the average annual temperature will be 2.9 degrees Celsius higher than today - a six-fold increase in the temperature rise observed over the past 50 years. What is inevitable is that the past we know will not be the same as the future we face. Decisions about major infrastructure investment or the course of agricultural development must be informed by well-researched projections of future climate. That is the reality confronting all governments and communities. Studies like Climate Futures for Tasmania should become the centrepiece of plans to adapt to climate change. They will provide a climate service to governments and the community in a similar way that weather forecasts do. Regular re-analyses and projections can then be made to take into account new information or improved modelling to refine our view of the future.Adapting to climate change will be much harder without this.
Climate Futures for Tasmania is hosted and led by the ACE CRC, and funded by a consortium of 12 partners, including the Federal and Tasmanian governments. ANZ Climate Forum a huge success In the same week as the Climate Futures for Tasmania Outcomes and Opportunities Summit, the ACE CRC and the Bureau of Meteorology hosted the highly successful Southern Exposure: Australia-New Zealand Climate Forum in Hobart. This was the 18 th ANZ Climate Forum, bringing together climate (and related sciences) researchers and users of climate information.
The 2010 ANZ Climate Forum consisted of three days of presentations and interactions on climate science. More than 170 presentations were given to a capacity audience of 220 scientists from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, South Africa, the US and Taiwan.
The line-up included six internationally renowned plenary speakers:
- Professor Will Steffen, executive director of the ANU Climate Change Institute
- Climate Futures for Tasmania project leader Professor Nathan Bindoff
- ACE CRC Team Acid leader Dr Donna Roberts
- ACE CRC oceanographer and Sea Level Rise project leader Dr John Hunter
- Dr Jim Salinger, president of the World Meteorological Organisation’s Commission for Agricultural Meteorology and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Auckland School of Environment
- Professor Neville Nicholls, Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow and President of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.
There were 130 conventional presentations by scientists and 37 lightning lectures, many by students. Many factors contributed to the success of the conference but it is worth emphasising the high quality of the plenary and non-plenary papers, the excellent program and the fabulous level of student engagement.
The forum was a wonderful blend of important information exchange, constructive debate and conversation, and fun. Those delivering lightning lectures had been encouraged to be creative with the format: as a result the audience was lucky enough to see one presentation in the form of a play and another in song.
I would like to use this opportunity to convey my thanks to the staff of the Bureau of Meteorology, ACE and CSIRO who did a fabulous job of organising the program, sponsorships, venue, website and events; to the Plenary and program speakers who contributed a wonderful program of science and discussion; and especially to the students for their participation in the Forum.
The Australia-New Zealand Climate Forum is held about every 18 months and it is likely that the next one, in 2012, will be held in New Zealand.