Extremes of rain, heat on the way

15 Jan, 2013 04:22 AM

AS AUSTRALIA recovers from last week's record-breaking temperatures, the head of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it is clear heatwaves are occurring more frequently, and will increase further with global warming.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who arrived in Australia on Monday, stopped short of directly linking last week's heatwave across much of the country to climate change. While it could be part of a trend, he said, conclusions could not be drawn from a single event.

But he told Fairfax Media work by the IPCC had found that some extreme weather events, including heatwaves, had become more frequent in recent decades.

He said the panel's projections found as climate change intensified, heatwaves would occur more often and with more intensity. The projections, in a 2012 IPCC special report, found a one-in-20-year hottest day will instead occur once every two years by the end of the century in most regions of the world, if rising greenhouse-gas emissions are not reduced.

''It [last week's record temperatures] could be [a result of climate change], but I wouldn't draw any conclusions on one single event. I think you have to take the whole aggregation over a period of time and then come up with the conclusion; which is precisely what we have done,'' he said.

''They [the findings] are very very clear. Heatwaves are on the increase, extreme precipitation events are on the increase, and on that there is really no room for doubt any more,'' he said.

Dr Pachauri is in Hobart for a meeting of scientists working on the IPCC's fifth climate assessment, which is prepared for the UN every five or six years. The first of three parts of the assessment - the subject of the Hobart meeting - will be released in September.

Dr Pachauri's visit follows several leaks of the panel's next assessment report in the past month.

Last week Canadian writer Donna Laframboise - author of a book critical of the IPCC's work - posted on her blog a leaked draft of the section tackling the impacts and adaptation to climate change. Ms Laframboise accused the panel of secrecy and said it needed to be upfront about each step in arriving at its conclusion.

Dr Pachauri rejected the claim that the IPCC was too secretive, saying the group processes were very transparent and would take into account more than 30,000 comments from people who had voluntarily signed up to be reviewers, including some climate sceptics.

''The very fact that we even go out and include those so-called expert reviewers who may not have the same view of climate change as most scientists shows the process is very inclusive,'' he said.

CSIRO's Dr Steve Rintoul, a co-ordinating lead author of the oceans chapter of the report, said the Hobart meeting would review all comments and develop a strategy to respond formally to each one.

The IPCC was first formed in 1988 on the request of UN member countries, and has released four major assessments of the climate, with each report approved by all governments.

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15/01/2013 5:22:54 AM

I know we had record breaking forecasts. But exactly how many record breaking temperatures did we have, and where were they?
15/01/2013 6:21:21 AM

When the metereologists say that the recent high temperatures have broken previously set records, then isn't it obvious that we have had these temperatures before? Some of the records are over 100 years old. And to think they didn't have airconditioning back then. I guess we really shouldn't complain too much. The fact that the way in which records are being kept is changing is just another excuse for the 'climate change experts' to fiddle with data so that it pleases them and makes it seem like these conditions are a first, which they aren't.
Will of Bordertown
15/01/2013 7:08:16 AM

I tend to agree with Qlander, we had a couple of stinkers, but the heat in the media has put them in the shade. Overall the summer here has been beautiful, and I'm no fan of hot weather. And no I'm not a 'denier' either, I'm just saying the press has been giving this summer an undeserved beat up.
Ian Mott
15/01/2013 8:30:19 AM

Even in those rare instances where a local record has been exceeded the media have called it a SMASHED record when the actual was diddly squat. The only certainty in all this is that extrapolations will go to extremes, that reporting will be extreme, and disregard for the truth will be extreme. The climate will continue on its merry way.
Dirty Redneck
15/01/2013 10:14:29 AM

Yawn, yeah whatever, just more of the same beat up.
15/01/2013 11:07:01 AM

Look like we are going into another drought, can anyone tell me how long ago since the last one finished? This will be the new norm. If you rely on agriculture and you don't plan to change your management to make you land more resilient for the change that is happening right now, I wish you all the luck you can muster.
Lets Get Realistic
15/01/2013 12:32:16 PM

I think you could be right HM , we could very well be going into another drought. Arn't we fortunate to have that tiny extra bit of co2 in the atmosphere to help plant life deal with the lack of water and stress ?
15/01/2013 2:02:28 PM

Good to see the sceptics still can't tell the difference between climate and weather. I for one am tired of sceptic BS "oh the weather's fine in my backyard - AGW must be false". Ignorami like Mott cause more problems than they are worth.
Lets Get Realistic
15/01/2013 3:07:08 PM

And I for one bagheera am tired of the alarmist BS that follows every weather event that comes along. The theary of AGW explains nothing/zero and to suggest its the cause of every heat wave or cyclone is as ignorant as you ever want to get. Does AGW explain record cold and snow bagheera? NO .Can you prove human emissions of co2 are doing anything but helping green the planet a little ? NO. People like you are the cause of more problems than your worth. Kneejerk simplistic people like you are what we dont need.
15/01/2013 3:52:02 PM

And when are ignorami like you bagheera and the rest of the green scum going to start and take responsibility for these devastating fires which are occurring as a result of the lockup of timbered areas all in the name of fixing AGW. Have a look at all your CO2 you have caused in the last few weeks all across the country you bunch of imbeciles.
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