About climate change
Climate change is happening now and it affects us all. This fact is backed up by research and observations made around the world by multiple and independent experts.
We know that Canberra's climate has been changing. Our climate records make this clear. They show that the number of days each year over 35 degrees since 1976 has almost doubled compared to the previous three decades.
That's right; our climate is already changing, and will continue to change. We can project what Canberra's climate will be like and how our city and region will be affected.
The fourth State of the Climate report was released in Oct 2016. The report draws on the latest monitoring, science and projection information to describe variability and changes in Australia's climate, and how it is likely to change in the future. These changes affect many Australians, particularly changes associated with increases in the frequency or intensity of heat events, fire weather and drought.
Key points from the report:
- Australia's climate has warmed in both mean surface air temperature and surrounding sea surface temperature by around 1 °C since 1910.
- The duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across large parts of Australia.
- There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.
- May-July rainfall has reduced by around 19 per cent since 1970 in the southwest of Australia.
Check out the full report for more details.
The ACT is getting hotter
This means we can expect even more sweltering days above 35°C could nearly triple by mid-century. Today we have fewer than 10 such days, but by 2060 we could have up to 30.
We can also expect fewer cool nights, which although sounds like a good thing, is an issue for people who grow cool-climate produce, or can't sleep in the heat.
The ACT Climate Change research project of the NSW and ACT Regional Climate Modelling Project, is a good starting point to understanding our local climate impacts.
Rainfall variability is putting water supplies at risk
Bushfire risk is rising
Storms are getting more intense
Long term temperature records show that temperatures have increased in the ACT since about 1950. They also show that the rate of temperature increases has accelerated over the last two decades.
Temperatures are rising and seasons are shifting. We are already seeing more extreme climate events, such as heavy rainstorms and record high temperatures.
Scientists are almost certain that many of these observed changes are linked to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Weather & Climate
This means an increase in average fire weather and severe fire days, mainly in spring and summer.
ACT regional climate models project warmer and drier conditions. For example, average temperatures will increase by up to 2°C by 2070. We will experience an average of 20 extra days above 35 °C a year by 2070. We will experience fewer cold nights with the temperatures expected to dip below 2°C an average of 43 fewer times a year by 2070.