Australia — SOUTHEASTERN Australia could be shocked by a surge in wild bushfires and heatwaves, according to research suggesting that scientists might have underestimated the suddenness of future climate change impacts.
Climate scientist Roger Jones of Victoria University says temperatures might rise in the region more quickly than climate change projections suggest. If he is right, extreme heatwaves and bushfires could hit suddenly, and the region might be unprepared.
Professor Jones, a co-ordinating lead author on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, analysed meteorological data for NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and southeastern South Australia stretching back 100 years. The figures included annual average hottest and coldest daily air temperatures. He published the results last month in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
He wanted to disentangle human impacts on climate from those that could be put down to natural climate variability caused by systems such as El Nino. Top 50 Tech Rec Coverage
The component of temperature increases that could be sheeted home to global warming did not rise gradually, as many had assumed, but in abrupt steps separated by periods of relative stability.
Until now, most scientists have attempted to tease the climate change signal out from the data by constructing a smooth curve between extreme readings.