Saturday, January 5, 2008

Australia Heats Up & Dries Out

Hotter than Hades and dryer than dust is not the way Australia wants the description to read in the weather section of travel guides. It is summer now and describing the Land Down Under as a dried up prune won't inspire a stampede of tourists rushing to book tickets either. Last year was the island's hottest on record in the south and overall ranked 6th hottest country wide. Sydney is the warmest on record since record keeping began 149 years ago. Scientists do not foresee dropping temperatures or enough rain even during La NiƱa. Starkly, if the ocean warms one more degree on a consistent basis, The Great Barrier Reef along with others, is in danger of dying. Climate Change and its consequences have decided Australia is just dandy for a long term stay.

It may be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent, one of the nation's most senior weather experts warned yesterday.

"Perhaps we should call it our new climate," said the Bureau of Meteorology's head of climate analysis, David Jones.

Surrounded by saltwater, with rain diminishing for the Land of Oz's heavily populated areas affects the nation's water supply. That is a national security issue. Australia's, along with others, interminable drought season is wreaking havoc in certain areas such as Victoria, as replacement for diminished water resources is not provided by nature at its former usual clip or in the amounts needed to offset a drought. Wilder weather means certain storm systems may provide a surfeit of rain in other areas, causing flash floods with the amount of rainfall. Water conservation policies must be part and parcel of the plans for dealing with climate change from the effects of global warming.
Rainfall across Victoria was 7% below average, but again there were large contrasts between regions. Pockets of Gippsland — hit by floods in June and November — were as wet as they have ever been, while Casterton, in the south-west, had its wettest year since 1973.

"On the other hand, the area around Melbourne was significantly drier than normal, as was north-eastern Victoria — a key catchment area for the Murray basin," Dr Trewin said.

Wow, when Australia has a dust storm, they don't come in size small. This one from 21 December, 2007 stretched out over 50 kilometers.

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said the reality of the weather was stacking up with all projections.

"It also shows that global weather is not just about warmer weather, it's about wilder weather," he said.

"The projections are for intense storms, flooding, droughts and bushfires and we had all of those in 2007."

Federal Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said that the statement reinforced the need to tackle climate change.

Changes will invariably come to the landscape through the passages of time. But Australia is on an accelerated pace to change by virtue of the changing Climate. A classic look by National Geographic from Roff Martin Smith capture the nation at the beginning of the 21st century in Australia: Journey Through A Timeless Land.

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