The Earth's future climate will depend on whether the world manages to slow or even reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but warming is likely to continue.
Warming likely to continue
With greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase, we expect the warming trend of the past century to accelerate throughout this century. We also expect changes to rainfall patterns and to the frequency of extreme weather events like cyclones and droughts.
Greenhouse gas concentrations will impact on the future climate
The Earth's future climate will depend on whether the world manages reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since greenhouse gases have a long lifetime in the atmosphere, any change in emissions will have a delayed effect on atmospheric concentrations, so these concentrations are expected to continue to increase, leading to further warming and climate change for many decades.
Different emissions scenarios have been developed, based on different assumptions about future demographic change, economic development and technological advances. The concentrations paths are similar up to about 2030, and then diverge markedly. For more information on greenhouse gas scenarios visit the Climate Change in Australia website.
Australia's future climate
Average temperatures across Australia are projected to rise by 0.6 to 1.5°C by 2030, compared with the climate of 1990, noting that Australia warmed by 0.6°C between 1910 and 1990.
By 2070, warming is projected to be 1.0 to 2.5°C for low greenhouse gas emissions, and 2.2 to 5.0°C for a high emissions scenario. Australians will experience this warming through an increase in the number of hot days and warm nights and a decrease in cool days and cold nights.
Climate models show that there may be less rainfall in southern areas of Australia during winter and spring in southern and southeastern Australia, and during spring in eastern areas. Wet years are likely to become less frequent and dry years and droughts more frequent. Climate models suggest that rainfall near the equator will increase globally, but it’s not clear how rainfall may change in northern Australia.
Australia will also experience climate-related changes to extreme weather events. In most areas of the country, intense rainfall events will become more extreme. Droughts will become more frequent, more intense and will last for longer. Fire-weather risk is also likely to increase, fire seasons will be longer, and bushfires will affect expanded areas. And although it is likely that there will be fewer tropical cyclones in the Australian region, the proportion of intense cyclones may increase.