Melbourne (Bernd F. Laeschke – November 2011): The most comprehensive scientific analysis of climate change in the Pacific region to date has been released by the Australian Government’s Pacific Climate Change Science Program (PCCSP). “The research provides clear evidence of how the climate has changed across this region. For example, the past decade has been the warmest on record and ocean acidity levels are continuing to increase in response to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations,” said Dr. Scott Power from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.
The research indicates future decreases in droughts in most parts of the Pacific and decreases in the frequency of tropical cyclones by the end of the century, according to Kevin Hennessy, principal research scientist climate impacts at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). “We also expect widespread increases in extreme rainfall events, large increases in the incidence of hot days and warm nights, increases in the proportion of tropical cyclones in the more intense categories and continued sea-level rise during this century,” co- editor Hennessy said.
Salesa Kaniaha from the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazard Department said that prior to the release of the research there had only been limited country-specific climate information available. “This report therefore addresses a crucial need for reliable information to help Pacific countries effectively plan for climate change,” Kaniaha said.
Information about the future climate of many countries in the region is accessible via a new interactive online tool called Pacific Climate Futures. “Pacific Climate Futures allows the user to explore future changes in various aspects of the climate including temperature, rainfall, wind, sunshine and humidity for 20-year averages around 2030, 2055 and 2090 under three greenhouse gas emissions scenarios,” Hennessy said.
The tool is based on research that includes climate projections for the Cook Islands, East Timor, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The PCCSP is delivered by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO and managed by the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in collaboration with AusAID as part of Australia’s five year, $328.2 million, International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. The landmark, peer-reviewed publication, Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research, presents the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date of climate change in the Pacific region.