Drought

Acacia Pepler

Acacia Pepler is a PhD student at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Climate Change Research Centre, where she studies extreme rainfall and East Coast Lows (ECLs), wild storms and their relation to climate change impacts.

Acacia Pepler initially began her career with an interest in Astronomy but her love of Science and Meteorology took over and after completing a Bachelor of Science BSc, she went on to become a PhD student, as she had always been interested also in the weather. So her current research work centres on the East Coast Lows perhaps as they are difficult to predict and can develop quickly.

As we all at times complain about weather forecast (but expect them to be accurate for a week ahead), our desire for an accurate prediction is of personal and probably superficial  nature or even can be a case of saving lives such as  with the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.  

Climate change can affect East Coast Lows in many ways, for example warmer days can make a cyclone more intense, more rising sea levels which are predicted to be about 1 - 1.5 metres (but NASA has predicted as high as 3 metres by 2050), influences by the Great Dividing Range which can intensify lows up and down the Eastern seaboard can also have an effect.  Answers to these questions are being modelled not only by the Bureau of Meteorology but the Universities of Macquarie and Newcastle, whose special study relates to history and dam levels in NSW the latter of which can be related to the important topic of water security.

Whatever the development of ocean warming intense rainfall is expected to  increase with each degree of global warming particularly when interacting with  cold air in the upper atmosphere. 

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre 26/8/16)

Dr Andrew Watkins BOM

Beyond Zero talks to Dr Andrew Watkins, Senior Climatologist and the Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) manager of climate prediction, about the unusual weather we have been having lately and the current El Niño. Unlike 2014, climatologists have already observed record rivalling El Niño conditions for 2015. Dr Watkins says we have just experienced twelve consecutive weeks with temperatures more than 1°C above average in all five of the key El Niño monitoring areas. The record was previously held by the 1997 El Niño, when this widespread warming lasted eight consecutive weeks. How much of this can be attributed to climate change?

Growing a better climate for farmers

A new discussion paper released today by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows how Australian farmers and foresters, two groups most vulnerable to climate change, can shift from having a negative to a positive impact on climate change.

“Zero Carbon Australia Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry” a joint project between BZE and The University of Melbourne's Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute provides a way for Australian farmers to reduce carbon pollution, and bring young people back to regional centres with new employment opportunities.

“Changing land use practices will slash carbon pollution and can provide an alternative income stream for farmers” said Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave.  

"The frequency and severity of the extreme weather we used to see were nothing compared to what we've seen in the past decade,” said John Pettigrew, former director of SPC Ltd. and current President of the Goulburn Valley Environment Group.

"Our farmers, given time, can adapt to changing conditions. We can reduce carbon emissions on-farm, move towards sustainable farming systems and even play a major role in producing renewable energy for our urban centres," said Mr Pettigrew.

The land use sector is one of the highest carbon polluting sectors of Australia’s economy - emissions may even be as high as 54% of total national emissions.

“Making changes to land management practices and technologies such as savannah burning, clearfell logging and land clearing for agriculture can turn that around,” said report researcher Andrew Longmire.

“Carbon storage in Australian native forests is underestimated by a factor of up to four or five, meaning that logging is having a much higher impact on the climate than previously recognised. Research has shown the native forests of south-east Australia can sequester 7,500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide if left to recover from clearfell logging.  That’s equivalent to more than 10 years of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions” said Mr Bygrave.

“As the country braces for worsening drought and bushfires this summer, BZE is reaching out to farmers and other landholders to tackle climate change in a way that maximises the productivity and the health of their land, and breathes life back into their communities” said Mr Bygrave.

“Zero Carbon Australia Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry” is available on our website at:  http://media.bze.org.au/lur  High resolution images from the report can be downloaded at: http://media.bze.org.au/lur-media.

John Pettigrew and Stephen Bygrave are available for interview.

Media contact:

Genevieve Wauchope     0431 465 952


Fire, heatwaves and the climate emergency

    

Associate Professor Peter Christoff at Melbourne University and Dr Elizabeth Hanna, National Convenor - Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Human Health at  ANU and President -  Climate and Health Alliance, were among fourteen prominent Australians, scientists and academics who recently published a statement calling on Australia to cease the expansion of coal ports.

'Let's talk about coal' dares to name the greatest contribution Australia is making to climate change and the impacts we are suffering right now through the recent fires, heatwaves, floods and droughts.

Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) 2020 Land Use plan program

Bushfires, black soot, glaciers, deforestation. How do they affect the climate and what are the solutions?
BZE guest programmer Andrew Longmire interviews Dr Chris Taylor who is a Melbourne University researcher for the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) 2020 Land Use plan.

UN warns of 70 percent desertification by 2025

Drought could parch close to 70 percent of the planet's soil by 2025 unless countries implement policies to slow desertification, a senior United Nations official has warned.

"If we cannot find a solution to this problem... in 2025, close to 70 percent could be affected," Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, said Friday.

Zero Emissions or Zero Water

03 May 07 – For immediate Release – Melbourne, Australia
“A lack of rainfall is often referred to as a ‘drought’, yet droughts are by their nature transient, and in the areas under discussion there is no prospect that the rain will return. Instead what has occurred is a rapid shift to a new, drier climate.”

Tim Flannery
The Weather Makers (p.124)

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