This State of the Climate is the third in a series of reports produced by CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. It provides a summary of observations of Australia’s climate and analysis of the factors that influence it.
About State of the Climate 2014
Weather and climate touch all aspects of Australian life. What we experience here at home is part of the global climate system. The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO contribute significantly to the international effort of weather and climate monitoring, forecasting and research. In State of the Climate, we discuss the long-term trends in Australia’s climate.
This is our third biennial State of the Climate report. As with our earlier reports, we focus primarily on climate observations and monitoring carried out by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO in the Australian region, as well as on future climate scenarios.
The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO play a key role in monitoring, measuring, understanding and reporting on weather and climate phenomena.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s monitoring program tracks changes across Australia for a range of important climate indicators. The Bureau maintains nearly 800 temperature recording sites and collates data from more than 6000 rain gauges across the continent and in remote Australian territories.
CSIRO is a provider of research-observing facilities through national research infrastructure programs. These include Australia’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), and the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), which records and analyses changes in the marine environment at ocean-basin and regional scales covering physical, chemical and biological variables.
CSIRO undertakes collaborative research in marine and atmospheric sciences as well as climate adaptation to support private- and public-sector planning, decision making and investment.
Through our research partnership, the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO collaboratively contribute to research that delivers critical research to underpin national benefit in areas such as weather prediction, hazard prediction and warnings, ocean prediction, climate variability and climate change, responses to weather and climate related health hazards, water supply and management, and adaptation to climate impacts.
Data and analysis from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO show further warming of the atmosphere and oceans in the Australian region, as is happening globally. This change is occurring against the background of high climate variability, but the signal is clear. Air and ocean temperatures across Australia are now, on average, almost a degree Celsius warmer than they were in 1910, with most of the warming occurring since 1950.
This warming has seen Australia experiencing more warm weather and extreme heat, and fewer cool extremes. There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia.
Rainfall averaged across all of Australia has slightly increased since 1900. Since 1970, there have been large increases in annual rainfall in the northwest and decreases in the southwest. Autumn and early winter rainfall has mostly been below average in the southeast since 1990.
Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise and continued emissions will cause further warming over this century. Limiting the magnitude of future climate change requires large and sustained net global reductions in greenhouse gases.
Starting 800,000 years ago, this timeline shows the history and evolution of ocean and atmospheric measurements and observations. Key moments include beginning of sea-level measurements in 1880, reliable Australian temperature measurements starting in 1900 and commencement of atmospheric monitoring of greenhouse gases at Cape Grim in Tasmania. More recently new technology such as satellites and Argo floats have been used to take measurements.