The entire state of New South Wales has been declared in drought due to “unusually dry and warm” conditions throughout June, July and August.
The Department of Primary Industries said 61 per cent of NSW is in drought or intense drought, while the rest is drought affected.
Less than 10 millimetres of rain have been recorded over the past month in Western, North West and Central NSW. “This is tough, there isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities,” said Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair.
These unfriendly conditions are expected to continue. “The forecast suggests an increase of drier than normal conditions for the next three months across the majority of NSW.”
A number of towns have been placed under water restrictions, limiting residents’ ability to wash clothes and shower.
BOM meteorologist Jane Golding said all parts of NSW usually receive some rain throughout the winter months, but this year is different. “It is unusually dry and also unusually warm which exacerbates the problems, so the warm temperatures dry out the soils even more.”
The state government has announced over $1 billion in drought relief measures, including waivers on farming costs, animal welfare support and transport subsidies. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also announced $12,000 grants for families affected by drought.
Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has erupted on Thursday, shooting ash and smoke about 9,100 metre into the air.
While a rain kept the ash from going far, US Geological Survey geologist Michelle Coombs said “additional larger, powerful events” are to be expected.
The eruption occurred after two weeks of volcanic activity on the island, where lava flow has destroyed dozens of homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.
Officials handed out 18,000 masks to protect residents from particulates, with more to be distributed soon. Locals in the area have been advised to stay home, with no further evacuations necessary at this point.
Hawaii Governor David Ige still encouraged visits from tourists, as the international airports in Hilo and Kona remain open.
“I would like to also remind the rest of the world as well as the rest of the state, Hawaii Island continues to be open for business,” Ige said. “The eruption site and the lava flows are in a very small portion of the island.”
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s latest climate outlook, issued today, suggests the above-average warmth of April is likely to extend into May, and for parts of the south, potentially into winter.
The outlooks for May temperatures show that both days and nights are likely to be warmer than average for much of Australia. Only northeast Queensland is likely to miss out on warmer temperatures, with no strong push there towards warmer or cooler conditions.
The unseasonable warmth, which has broken records in Adelaide and Sydney, appears to be driven by high ocean temperatures, and weaker westerly winds and much lower than average soil moisture across southern Australia.
The rainfall outlook for May is mixed, but generally shows no strong shift towards a wetter or drier month for most of Australia.
By June the tendency for warmer than normal days may start to wane. This easing of the outlook for above average temperatures as we head into winter is reflected in the full May-July outlook, with only some parts of southern Australia likely to be warmer than average. Southern parts of Western Australia and South Australia have a moderate chance of warmer than average daytime temperatures, with stronger odds over southern Victoria.
Odds don’t favour a strong push towards a particularly wet or dry three months for much of Australia, apart from some areas in the far southeast.
What’s behind the warmth?
The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are two of Australia’s major climate drivers. ENSO is currently in a neutral phase, meaning its neither El Niño nor La Niña. Our outlooks suggest it is likely to stay neutral leading into winter.
The IOD is also neutral, and most models suggest it will remain so over the coming months.
But given it is harder to forecast ENSO and the IOD in autumn compared to other times of the year, climatologists will be monitoring Indian and Pacific Ocean temperature patterns closely as we edge towards winter.
With near-average temperature patterns in the tropical oceans to our east and west, there is no strong shift in the outlook towards widespread wetter or drier conditions for Australia.
However, for temperatures it’s a little different. Sure ENSO and the IOD are playing a minor role right now, but other factors are coming into play.
Ocean temperatures in the Tasman Sea and around New Zealand are much warmer than average – in fact at record levels in the past few months – and are expected to remain warm over the coming months. These warm sea temperatures are associated with a large area of lower than usual air pressure to Australia’s east, which is likely to weaken the westerly winds that normally bring cooler air to southern Australia in autumn and winter.
Another factor in the current and forecast warmth is the very much below average soil moisture across southern Australia. With little moisture available to evaporate and cool the air, and the soils themselves not able to store as much heat, the air above the ground heats more rapidly in the daytime.
In addition to our natural climate drivers, Australian climate patterns are being influenced by the long-term trend in global air and ocean temperatures. Winter maximum temperatures have increased by 1℃ over the past century, with three of the top five warmest winters in the past 108 years occurring since 2009. Oceans around Australia have warmed by slightly more, with four of our top five warmest years since 2010.
So while the normal big two drivers of our climate remain benign, it would actually be wrong to assume there will be a quick return to more average temperatures. The outlook released today suggests we may have to wait at least another month until service returns to normal for much of the country.
Swiss voters have voted to ban new nuclear plants and allocate funds for renewable energy subsidies.
58.2 per cent of the voters agreed on the ban in a referendum on Sunday. “The results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants,” said Switzerland’s energy minister Doris Leuthard. “The law leads our country into a modern energy future.”
This effort to exit nuclear energy mirrors other European countries such as Austria, which banned nuclear power, and Germany, which pledges to phase it out by 2022. Last week, the newly-elected French president Emmanuel Macron also appointed anti-nuclear advocate Nicolas Hulot as energy minister.
An air pollution alert has been issued for Sydney residents as ozone levels continue to rise beyond government standards.
New South Wales Health said the ozone excess, which causes “poor” air quality on Tuesday, could affect people with respiratory conditions.
Ozone is a pungent gas resulting from chemical reactions between atmospheric gases and nitrogen oxides from car-vehicle exhausts, which can cause chest pain, coughing and throat irritation when inhaled. Hot weathers could exacerbate ozone pollution levels, a statement by NSW Health said.
Dr Ben Scalley, Director of Environmental Health Branch at NSW Health said parents are advised to keep watch on their children when ozone levels are high.
“Ozone levels are higher outdoors than indoors, so parents should limit the time their children with asthma play outside as they are more susceptible to the effects of ozone pollution,” said Scalley.
Scalley reminded that people should remain alert to the link between high temperatures and ozone pollution.
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has claimed that the CSIRO’s climate change science had no “empirical proof”.
In his Monday press conference, Roberts released his 42-page report titled “On Climate, CSIRO Lacks Empirical Proof”, in which he wrote that the agency “relies on unscientific Australian and overseas manipulations of data that have fabricated warming temperatures”.
Roberts also published his letter to Dr Larry Marshall of the CSIRO, saying that climate policies is detrimental to “key industries” and people’s job security.
On my 1st day as a Senator I sent this letter to Dr Marshall of the CSIRO requesting a meeting about their climate advice to Government pic.twitter.com/4cJRFgmW0U
The report also criticised former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax policy and claimed that Great Barrier Reef is not “dying”.
“We have had complete failure of science in policies that has cost Australian taxpayers and citizens and Queensland residents billions of dollars and has cost lives,” said Roberts in the press conference.
Roberts said the CSIRO and weather bureau should face an independent inquiry over the lack of “empirical evidence” that human activity affects climate.
The CSIRO maintained its position in a statement: “CSIRO stands behind its peer-reviewed science on environment, climate and climate change.”
Phasing out of coal production would not hurt Australia’s economy, according to an Australia Institute research.
The study found that the national economic impact would be insignificant if the Government put a moratorium on coal mines opening and expansion, although it could hurt regional areas relying on the industry.
“The world outlook for coal is fairly bleak. We don’t see much likelihood of strong market conditions for coal over the longer term,” said the research’s leader at Victoria University’s Centre Of Policy Studies, Professor Philip Adams to ABC’s AM. “There is enough coal in mines that are operating or will be operating to continue the level of exports that we see now.
“But, thereafter, coal production will slow as new mines which otherwise would come on are not allowed to come on.
“Is this a bad thing for Australia? The answer is no.”
Australia Institute chief economist, Richard Dennis said the impacts of a moratorium on the economy will be “trivial… Literally, when you graph the economy with a moratorium and without a moratorium, you need a microscope to find the difference.”
The report concluded with calls for a moratorium on new coal mines and expansions, and that the Government “should expect minimal economic disruption from doing so.”
The mining industry has rejected the study’s findings. The Chief Executive of the World Coal Association, Benjamin Sporton said coal still plays an important role in providing energy to the world, with coal currently providing 41 per cent of the world’s electricity and 90 per cent of Australia’s eastern seaboards.
“To try and say we’re going to move away from a fuel that provides that much of the world’s electricity, I just don’t think is realistic,” said Sporton.
The Executive director of Minerals Council of Australia, Greg Evans said the report is “a nonsense” and “just more anti-coal rhetoric, not analysis”.
“Only the green movement and their mouthpieces such as the Australia Institute (TAI) would be able to contend shutting down Australia’s second largest export industry would have limited economic impact,” said Evans in a statement.
“Annual coal exports at $38 billion in 2014/15 are almost twice those of beef, wheat, wool and wine combined so under their logic eliminating those great industries would also have negligible consequences.
“There are also 44,000 direct jobs in the coal sector and including related jobs, the number is around 150,000 and the majority of those are in regional areas. The TAI should travel to the Hunter Valley and Bowen basin coal towns and promote their economic thesis that the coal industry doesn’t matter.”
Construction appears to be holding the Aus economy in the green so far with increased foreign spend on property leading to more capital expenditure on equipment sales. The advent of price comparison sites like equipment hunt issuing excavator quotes for free make the market more competitive with buyers getting the best deals.
NASA has published data showing global temperature and rainfall patterns that may change through the year 2100 due to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions concentrating in the Earth’s atmosphere. The dataset shows projected changes worldwide responding to growing carbon dioxide simulated by 21 climate models.
According to NASA Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan, “NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future,”. She states that “with this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet.”
The NASA climate projections provide a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 25km resolution, covering the time period from 1950-2100.
Using these data sets, modelling algorithms, and workflows, NASA is using NEX – a collaboration and analytical platform that combines state of the art supercomputing to explore and analyse Earth’s change.