Web portal helps reveal climate impacts on Australia

A new web portal will, for the first time, make climate model data available to researchers investigating the potential impacts of climate change on Australia in a form they can easily use.

The website, which is being developed by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and funded by the Australian National Data Service, will give Australian climate change impacts researchers easy access to detailed information generated by regional climate models.

Researchers investigating the potential impacts of climate change on our wheat farms, rivers and wetlands, ecosystems and health are already testing its effectiveness.

“The data produced by climate models has often been difficult for climate change impacts researchers to use because of the type of output climate models produce,” said project manager Ian Macadam.

“To overcome this, we are collaborating with impacts researchers in a variety of fields so that we know what data they need and how they want the data delivered.

“This will ensure that researchers are well-equipped to use the detailed climate model data coming out of projects such as the NSW and ACT Regional Climate Modelling (NARCLiM) project.”

The portal will be able to provide data on the possible behavior of key climate variables, such as temperature and rainfall, for time periods in the mid and late 21st century.

Species distribution researcher Dr Linda Beaumont said the data would immeasurably improve her work on ecosystems.

“I am specifically looking at some New South Wales ecosystems that could be affected by climate change,” said Dr Beaumont.

“These ecosystems are already suffering human impacts, making it much harder for plants and animals to move as the climate rapidly changes. We need to know how climate change will affect these fragmented ecosystems to preserve species and help them adapt.”

The timing of the creation of the website reflects the increasing value of regional climate model data to impacts researchers. The global climate models that have traditionally been used in climate science only work well at continental scales.

Today, with the advent of much more powerful computers and a better understanding of how our climate works, much higher resolution regional climate models are capable of representing climate conditions at a scale detailed enough to be useful to climate impacts researchers.2012

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