Australian temperatures set to soar

Temperatures in Australia could increase by as much as five degrees Celsius by 2070 as a result of climate change, a new report has revealed.

The study, by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology, predicts temperatures will rise by between one and 2.5 degrees if emissions are low, and between 2.2 and five degrees if emissions are high over the next 60 years.

The rise is expected to cause more extreme weather, with more frequent droughts and bushfires, particularly in the south, and more intense tropical cyclones.

Scientists believe the average number of days above 35 degrees will also increase substantially by 2070.

In a worst case scenario, the authors of the report predict the average number of days above 35 degrees in the northern city Darwin could increase from just 11 a year to 230.

Average levels of rainfall in the south are expected to decrease, but the report’s findings suggest that when it does rain, the rainfall will be heavier.

The report was prepared as part of the Australian Climate Change Science Programme, a $40m government scheme.

Malcolm Turnbull, minister for the environment, said the report will provide planning authorities and decision-makers with vital information to meet the challenges of climate change.

He said: “These projections highlight two things. Firstly, we need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid changes at the upper end of the projected ranges.

“Secondly, we need to plan now how we can adapt to the changes that are inevitable due to the greenhouse gases that have already been emitted.

“The Australian government has mounted a strong response to both of these challenges.”

The government is spending $126m on a new Climate Change Adaptation Centre, and is investing $43.6m on a major research programme on adapting to climate change, which will be carried out by CSIRO.

Kate Martin

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