Extreme heat is expected to increase all across the Australian continent, and with significant increases in the duration, frequency and intensity of heatwaves in most regions.

Today, climate change has become a significant factor influencing every extreme weather event—with some of the worst climate impacts being recorded in 2016, a new report by the climate council has found.

According to the report dubbed Cranking Up The Intensity: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events, while the connection between climate change and some of the extreme weather events like heatwaves and bushfires are well-known, the prove that links climate change to heavy storms and rainfall is also increasing.

KEY FINDINGS

1. Climate change is influencing all Australia’s extreme weather events

  • Apparently, all extreme weather events are happening in atmospheres that are warmer and wetter than they were in the 1950s.
  • Heatwaves are now hotter, frequent and lasting longer.
  • Marine heatwaves that result in severe coral mortality and bleaching have become more intense and frequent.
  • Extreme summer weather and the length of the summer season are growing, causing an increase in bushfire risk.
  • Rising sea level continues to rise rapidly, resulting in more distressing coastal floods during storm surges.

2. Some of the worst climate impacts the world has witnessed occurred in 2016.

  • Arctic sea ice hit its lowest annual extent ever while unprecedented sea surface temperatures brought about the worst coral bleaching event ever in the Great Barrier Reef’s history.
  • Tropical Cyclone Winston was considered the most intense cyclone on record to strike Fiji, while Hurricane Otto was the southernmost hurricane on record to hit Central America.
  • Canada recorded its most costly wildfire in history at Fort McMurray, compelling the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people.
  • The US state of Louisiana recorded 1-in-500 year rains that caused severe flooding which resulted in 13 deaths and 30,000 rescues.

3. In Australia, extreme weather events are expected to worsen as the climate continues to warm.

  • Extreme heat is expected to increase all across the Australian continent, and with significant increases in the duration, frequency and intensity of heatwaves in most regions.
  • The span of drought is expected to increase across Australia, particularly in the southern parts of Australia. Extreme drought is also projected to heighten in both duration and frequency.
  • Southern and eastern Australia is expected to record more severe fire weather.
  • The intensity of receiving extreme rainfall events is expected to increase in most parts of Australia.
  • The rapid growth in coastal flooding as a result of high sea level activities is expected to become more frequent and severe as sea levels keep rising.

4. The impacts of extreme weather activities will likely worsen unless global greenhouse gas emissions are cut deeply and rapidly.

  • Burning of coal, gas and oil is triggering temperatures to rise at record highs and driving extreme weather events to become more intense, destructive and costly.
  • Major Greenhouse gas emitters such as China and the European Union are taking the lead in the fight against climate change, yet Australia lags well behind and could even fail to achieve its low target of a 26-28% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
  • Australia is expected to do more to meet its global emissions reduction challenge by reducing its green house gas emissions deeply and rapidly.
  • Shutting down the ageing and polluting coal plants and replacing them with clean, green and more efficient renewable energy sources like solar and wind is imperative in stabilising the rate of global warming and mitigating the risks of experiencing worse extreme weather events.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs, objectives or circumstances into consideration, and is not financial advice, legal advice or otherwise a recommendation to purchase any financial product or insurance policy. You should seek your own independent financial advice from a qualified financial and insurance adviser before making any financial decisions, and seek your own independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor before making any decisions of a legal nature.

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