State of the Climate 2012

State of the Climate 2012


The long-term warming trend has not changed.
Guillaume Brialon

Australia’s land and oceans have continued to warm in response to rising CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

This is the headline finding in the State of the Climate 2012, an updated summary of Australia’s long term climate trends released by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology today (14 March 2012).

The long-term warming trend has not changed.

Each decade has been warmer than the previous decade since the 1950s. Global-average surface temperatures were the warmest on record in 2010 (slightly higher than 2005 and 1998). 2011 was the world’s 11th warmest year and the warmest year on record during a La Niña event. The world’s 13 warmest years on record have all occurred in the past 15 years.

On land around Australia the observed warming trends are consistent with the global-scale warming – despite 2010 and 2011 being the coolest years recorded in Australia since 2001.

In the oceans around Australia, sea-surface temperatures have increased faster than the global average, and sea-level rise since 1993 is greater than, or equal to, the global average.

Australian average temperatures over land

Australian annual-average daily mean temperatures showed little change from 1910 to 1950 but have progressively warmed since, increasing by 0.9 °C from 1910 to 2011. The average temperature during the past ten years has been more than 0.5 °C warmer than the World Meteorological Organization’s standard 1961-1990 long-term average. This increase continues the trend since the 1950s of each decade being warmer than the previous.

The warming trend has occurred against a backdrop of natural, year-to-year climate variability. Most notably, El Niño and La Niña events during the past century have continued to produce the hot droughts and cooler wet periods for which Australia is well known. 2010 and 2011, for example, were the coolest years recorded since 2001 due to two consecutive La Niña events.

Changes in average temperature for Australia for each year (orange line) and each decade (grey boxes), and 11-year average (black line – an 11-year period is the standard used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Anomalies are the departure from the 1961-1990 average climatological period. The average value for the most recent 10-year period (2002–2011) is shown in darker grey.
Bureau of Meteorology
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Rising sea level

Global-average mean sea level for 2011 was 210 mm (± 30 mm) above the level in 1880. The observed global-average mean sea-level rise since 1990 is near the high end of projections from the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.

Rates of sea-level rise are not uniform around the globe and vary from year to year. Since 1993, the rates of sea-level rise to the north and northwest of Australia have been 7 to 11 mm per year, two to three times the global average, and rates of sea-level rise on the central east and southern coasts of the continent are mostly similar to the global average. These variations are at least in part a result of natural variability of the climate system.

High-quality global sea-level measurements have been available from satellite altimetry since the start of 1993 (red line), in addition to the longer-term records from tide gauges (blue line, with shading providing an indication of the accuracy of the estimate). Sea level rose at a global-averaged rate of about 3 mm per year between 1993 and 2011, and 1.7 mm per year during the 20th century as a whole. CSIRO
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The rate of sea-level rise around Australia as measured by coastal tide gauges (circles) and satellite observations (contours) from January 1993 to September 2011. CSIRO
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Increasing sea-surface temperatures

Sea-surface temperatures in the Australian region in 2010 were the highest on record, with nine of the months during 2011 ranked in the top ten warmest months on record. Sea-surface temperatures averaged over the decades since 1900 have increased for every decade. Terrestrial and ocean surface temperatures have shown very similar warming trends over the last century.

The warm sea-surface temperatures in 2010-11 were strongly influenced by La Niña. Ocean temperatures around Australia were warmer during 2010-11 than for any previously identified La Niña event, likely due to the influence of the long-term warming trend of the past century.

Greenhouse gases

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions account for about 60% of the effect from anthropogenic greenhouse gases on the earth’s energy balance over the past 250 years. These global CO2 emissions are mostly from fossil fuels (more than 85%), land use change, mainly associated with tropical deforestation (less than 10%), and cement production and other industrial processes (about 4%). Australia contributes about 1.3% of the global CO2 emissions. Energy generation continues to climb and is dominated by fossil fuels – suggesting emissions will grow for some time yet.

CO2 levels are rising in the atmosphere and ocean.

About 50% of the amount of CO2 emitted from fossil fuels, industry, and changes in land-use, stays in the atmosphere. The remainder is taken up by the ocean and land vegetation, in roughly equal parts.

The extra carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans is estimated to have caused about a 30% increase in the level of ocean acidity since pre-industrial times.

The sources of the CO2 increase in the atmosphere can be identified from studies of the isotopic composition of atmospheric CO2 and from oxygen (O2) concentration trends in the atmosphere. The observed trends in the isotopic (13C, 14C) composition of CO2 in the atmosphere and the decrease in the concentration of atmospheric O2 confirm that the dominant cause of the observed CO2 increase is the combustion of fossil fuels.

Measurements from Cape Grim, Tasmania, showing: increasing monthly-mean, background concentrations of CO2 (parts per million,top) showing that the CO2 growth rate has increased above the linear trend (dashed line) through the measurement period; the decreasing ratio of 13CO2/12CO2 in the atmosphere (expressed as δ13CO2 in units of per mille, centre); and decreasing concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere (expressed as the ratio of oxygen to nitrogen, bottom), including measurements at Cape Grim from both CSIRO (light green) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (dark green). CSIRO
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Future changes

Australian average temperatures are projected to rise by 0.6 to 1.5 °C by 2030 when compared with the climate of 1980 to 1999. The warming is projected to be in the range of 1.0 to 5.0 °C by 2070 if global greenhouse gas emissions are within the range of projected future emission scenarios considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These changes will be felt through an increase in the number of hot days and warm nights, and a decline in cool days and cold nights.

Climate models suggest long-term drying over southern areas during winter and over southern and eastern areas during spring. This will be superimposed on large natural variability, so wet years are likely to become less frequent and dry years more frequent. Droughts are expected to become more frequent in southern Australia; however, periods of heavy rainfall are still likely to occur.

Models generally indicate an increase in rainfall near the equator globally, but the direction of projected changes to average rainfall over northern Australia is unclear as there is a lack of consensus among the models.

For Australia as a whole, an increase in the number of dry days is expected, but it is also likely that rainfall will be heavier during wet periods.

It is likely (with more than 66% probability) that there will be fewer tropical cyclones in the Australian region, on average, but the proportion of intense cyclones is expected to increase.

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will continue to provide observations, projections, research, and analysis so that Australia’s responses are underpinned by science of the highest quality.

A list of peer-reviewed references underpinning State of the Climate 2012 can be found on the CSIRO website.

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Experiencing Gayana Eco Resort – Sabah

Borneo and Sabah

Borneo is South East Asia’s biggest island and is collectively made up of the two East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. The island of Palau and Gaya is located just off Sabah’s Capital, Kota Kinabalu, about a 2.5-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Gaya Island is the largest of the five islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park and is famous for its ancient, dense Dipterocarp forest which offers a rare glimpse into a primordial jungle

Gayana Eco Resort

Departing from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal on the edge of Kota Kinabalu, we take a tender to the Gayana Eco resort, about a 25 minute trip sees us arrive to a small jetty at the base of a stunning jungle backdrop.

Stepping onto the jetty you are greeted with hundreds of tropical fish swimming beneath you in the crystal clear aqua waters, to the right a number of Kingfish that have been rescued from old nets swim freely in a protected rehabilitation area.

The Eco resort itself sits right against the jungle and rocky outcrops of National Park of Tunku Abdul Rahman, a number of over water villas house guests and have been designed to enhance the soothing sounds of the ocean below and the jungle beside, while capturing the enduring vistas of Mt Kinabalu on the distant horizon.

One of the main features at Gayana is the Marine Ecology Research Centre or (MERC). The centre is a must visit and showcases the product of their research and conservation program efforts. Passionately propagating endangered Giant Clams and restoring vital natural coral reefs; a place where visitors can actively participate in restoring vibrant life back to once damaged ocean floors.

Striking the perfect balance of forward thinking ecology and visitor comfort Gayana is a place your body and mind will enjoy.

The rest of day one was taken up with an immersion in the MERC facility. The guide directed visitors to the, quite modern, theatrette complete with advanced audiovisuals and tiered seating for approximately 80.

A 20 min presentation soon followed which gave a detailed insight in to MERC and the great work that has been under way for a number of years. After the presentation visitors stroll along the over-water jetty to an educational aquarium, housed in more than 20 tanks visitors get up, close and personal with the local fish species, Giant Clams and our guide facilitates an informative discussion about the centre, the habitat and how climate change and human impact has placed this area at risk.

Next to the aquarium is a more ‘touch and feel’ area, stroking star fish, baby clams, sea cucumbers, coral and the like gives visitors an appreciation for how precious and vulnerable the marine habitat is. MERC is all about conservation through education, which is why it hosts many school groups and visitors from across Malaysia, Brunei, and Borneo and across the globe.

Adjacent to MERC’s main facility an in-ocean protected area and home to numbers of rescued marine life. A green and olive turtle were rescued overnight, found stressed and tangled in a disused Fishermans nets, bought to MERC by a local, the centre assesses and nurtures the turtles back to health before releasing back into the marine reserve. Along side the turtles are a number of kingfish, which had been also rescued by locals and are being cared for by the centre.

In addition to the conservation of fish, mammals and Giant Clams the centre is also developing and restoring coral reefs through initiatives like replanting of broken and damaged coral and the establishment of two solar powered bio rock reefs. Placing large steel structures in areas of the habitat where reefs have been lost forms a Bio rock reef; by directing a very low voltage current through the steel it encourages and attracts rapid coral growth.

One of the best ways to explore the marine reserve is via kayak and snorkeling or free diving which visitors are encouraged to undertake.

Very early morning on day two at Gayana gave rise to the sounds of monkeys clambering down to the rocky ocean edge at low tide to fossick for breakfast, more than 30 were busy feasting on crabs, baby clams anything they could find, or steal from each other.

Later that day as I walked along the jetty, just below a monitor lizard appeared from the jungle, at more than 1.5 meters long, it slowly slide into the water every so smoothly swimming around, glad it did not find me enticing. Looking above, a few rare Hornbills flew in formation, a fantastic sight to see.

As the sun sets on my last day here I was lucky enough to see a mass bait ball swimming very close to the jetty, thousands of young fish darting left, right, up and down, they clearly like being in a protected marine reserve also.

To see more images from the trip please see flickr link on the home page.

Informative sites