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Worsening droughts with climate change

Tony Abbott might be correct that climate change is not responsible for the current drought but he would be irresponsible to assert that future drought patterns will be independent of climate change.

There is, in fact, evidence published by our own Bureau of Meteorology that El Nino effects – and hence droughts – will have increased intensity under climate change.  While studies from the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre suggest severe drought events will occur twice as often with climate change.

In the past various groups have been skeptical of the climate change-drought severity link – although the likelihood of a link during the Millennium Drought seemed strong – but the evidence is now becoming clear.

4 comments to Worsening droughts with climate change

  • derrida derider

    As I’ve said before, I think it a TACTICAL mistake for those wanting climate action to push the “this drought/heatwave/storm is due to climate change” line – even though it is not untrue (but then not the whole truth either – stochastic things are complicated). That’s simply because droughts get succeeded by floods, heatwaves by cold snaps, etc.

    A cleverer way is to point out that every year somewhere in the world there will be a record cold and somewhere else a record hot temperature set, but that the hot ones are being set at about three times the rate of the cold ones. Exploit the fact that small movements in the average – which are hard to persuade people of because they’re small – generate much larger movements at the extremes.

  • hc

    Agreed Derrida I like that line. The statistical difficulty with the drought issue is just that they are sparse so impact of warming difficult to detect. Visually i couldn’t see much up until the Millennium Drought. But I am interested in the recent evidence.

  • rog

    Important to remember that the current drought is not an el Niño event – if the following is to believed 2014/15 could be drier and hotter than previous.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/111/6/2064

    If we are to experience another el Niño how much will the govt fork out in farm assistance? The floods in the UK has forced Cameron to pledge unlimited funds, ostensibly reversing their austerity policy.

  • There is absolutely no justification for Tony Abbott to assert that climate change has not caused the current drought. How can he know this? Certainly there is no science saying this. Since he can’t possibly know, why does he offer an opinion? Surely that is not a very Prime Ministerly thing to do.

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