ARCCSS Summary for Policymakers of key research outcomes

Prepared by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science

The Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence (2011-2018) for Climate System Science was tasked with scientific discovery in key areas of climate science. This document identifies major findings of our research, both on a global scale, and as they relate to Australia. All are supported by peer-reviewed publications in the international science literature. Each of the key messages synthesizes a great deal of science, undertaken by many researchers and further details can be provided on request.


Key Messages

  • Australia is getting hotter, heatwaves are becoming more common and more intense and these trends will continue into the future. Climate models suggest Australia’s record hot summer of 2013 was made 5 times more likely by anthropogenic climate change and this record summer may be representative of Australian climate by 2035 under high emission scenarios.
  • There is a link between tropical storms and cyclones in northern Australia, and heatwaves in southern Australia, causing these events in both regions to occur simultaneously. To understand how weather and climate will change over Australia requires a far deeper understanding of the tropics.

  • The 2015/16 marine heatwave in the Tasman Sea was more intense and substantially longer than any previously recorded. This change is consistent with a response to anthropogenic climate change, and further increases in the duration and intensity of marine heatwaves in this region in the future are anticipated.

  • El Niño events originating in the Central Pacific have become more frequent than El Niño events originating in the Eastern Pacific, fundamentally changing the way ENSO impacts rainfall over Australia.

  • Overall, heavy rainfall events are becoming more frequent and intense. Model projections combined with our physical understanding indicate the intensity of the strongest rainfall events is likely to increase with increases in global temperature.

  • Drought is poorly simulated by climate models. There is little evidence of a general change in drought globally, but some regions are likely to become more drought-prone in the future.

  • We added new ways to account for soil moisture and vegetation in the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) model. However there is still much work to do to make ACCESS fit for purpose for simulating climate extremes at regional scales over Australia.

  • Our research has been applied to improving aviation guidelines, fire risk modelling and general weather and climate risk for the insurance industry.



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