Drought in southern Australia declared ‘worst on record’

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"Drought in southern Australia declared ‘worst on record’"

DroughtIf you want to know what the U.S. southwest faces in the coming decades if we don’t reverse greenhouse gas emissions trends quickly, just look to Australia:

David Jones, the head of climate analysis at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the drought affecting south-west Western Australia, south-east South Australia, Victoria and northern Tasmania “is now very severe and without historical precedent”.

Dr Jones said Victoria had had “the driest multi-year period on record, but also by far the hottest….”

He said temperatures were running at about one degree “above any previous comparable drought. That is substantially hotter, and that one degree is a global warming signal.”

He said the data suggests that for every one degree of warming, there is a 15 per cent decline in run-off, or river flow, in the Murray Darling Basin….

He said a similar drying pattern had been observed in Europe’s Mediterranean, and the south-west in the USA….

The highlighted point is key. Previously, droughts around the world were either cold-whether droughts or warm-weather droughts. In the future, virtually all droughts will be hot weather droughts, which are obviously the worst kind.

He said the current dry was at the extreme end of what the climate models had predicted.

Most of the major predicted climate impacts the planet is now experiencing are at the extreme end of what the models had predicted (see “Are Scientists Overestimating — or Underestimating — Climate Change, Part I“).

Here is more on Australia’s astonishing drought:

He said the rainfall deficiencies were the largest on record.

“If you look at Victoria, where the effect has been particularly severe, in the last 12 years we have now missed out on two years of rainfall, which is an extraordinary result,” he said.

“Across Victoria as a whole, if you add up how much rainfall has been missed in 12 years, it is now up around 1300mm or four feet of rainfall, a very, very large rainfall deficit….”

The most dramatic effects have been felt by Melbourne.

Melbourne recorded its driest September on record.

“If one looks at the history of data we have for Melbourne, we have rainfall records going 150 years. We simply have not seen anything like what we currently have, not even close,” he said.

The previous longest dry for Melbourne was the six years from 1979 to 1984.

“Starting in 1997 we have had 11 years, nearly 12 years” of dry conditions.

The shape of things to come for us. The time to act is yesterday.

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2 Responses to Drought in southern Australia declared ‘worst on record’

  1. llewelly says:

    He said the data suggests that for every one degree of warming, there is a 15 per cent decline in run-off, or river flow, in the Murray Darling Basin….

    Suppose there’s a 3 degree warming, and on top of that a drought of otherwise similar nature. What would the expected decline in river flow be?

  2. P. G. Dudda says:

    Yes – this has been clearly seen in Cyprus. I did an internship there 10 years ago, and one of the locals told me that some streams just don’t run anymore because there’s not enough rain. The fam plot the woman inherited from her mother is useless without irrigation, but was stream-watered in her childhood.