Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 400. Updated Tuesday, 11 March 2014

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Australia a nation feeling the heat

The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology have joined forces to release a report on the long-term trends in Australia's climate.

Temperatures across Australia were, on average, almost 1°C warmer than they were a century ago, with most of the warming occurring since 1950, the report said.

Releasing the State of the Climate 2014 report, the Chief Executive of the Bureau, Dr Rob Vertessy, said: "The duration, frequency and intensity of heatwaves have increased across large parts of Australia since 1950.

"Extreme fire weather risk has increased, and the fire season has lengthened across large parts of Australia since the 1970s."

He said there has also been declining autumn and winter rainfall, particularly in south-western and south-eastern Australia, while heavy rainfall events were projected to increase.

"Australian average annual rainfall has increased slightly, largely due to increases in spring and summer rainfall, most markedly in north-western Australia," Dr Vertessy said.

Picture of a changing climate

"Australia's mean temperature has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910.

"Seven of the 10 warmest years on record in Australia have occurred since 1998. When we compare the past 15 years to the period 1951 to1980, we find that the frequency of very warm months has increased five-fold and the frequency of very cool months has decreased by around a third."

Chief executive of the CSIRO, Dr Megan Clark, said Australia had warmed in every State and Territory and in every season.

"Australia has one of the most variable climates in the world,'' Dr Clark said.

"Against this backdrop, across the decades, we're continuing to see increasing temperatures, warmer oceans, changes to when and where rain falls and higher sea levels.

"The sea-surface temperatures have warmed by 0.9°C since 1900 and greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise."

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology play a key role in monitoring, measuring and reporting on weather and climate, contributing to improved understanding of our changing global climate system.

This latest report is the third in a series and follows earlier reports in 2010 and 2012.

For further information and to download the full report go to this PS News link.

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