State of the Climate 2016

More extremely hot days than ever before, hotter ocean temperatures and higher levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere now than in the past two million years... 

Since 1910, Australia's oceans have warmed by one degree. The oceans' acidity has also increased. Sea levels have risen significantly. And these upward trends are predicted to continue, all of which will have significant impacts on marine ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef.

These are some of the findings in the latest report from two of Australia’s leading science agencies about the state of Australia’s climate.

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have released the State of the Climate 2016 Report, the fourth produced since their collaboration on climate reporting began.

CSIRO Senior Scientist Dr Helen Cleugh says that Australian temperatures will almost certainly continue to increase over the coming decades, with the pattern of more extremely hot days and fewer extremely cool days affecting both land and sea.

“As land temperatures increase, so do ocean temperatures,” Dr Cleugh said.

“The report shows that the deep ocean is also impacted, with warming now recorded at least 2,000 metres below the sea surface.”

As oceans warm, they expand and sea level rises. Globally, sea levels have risen over 20 cm on average since the late 19th century, with ocean warming contributing about one third of this rise. Since 1993, the sea level has risen at an even faster rate.

The impact of our changing climate is already being seen on the Great Barrier Reef with last summer’s mass bleaching event the worst on record for the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority reported an overall coral mortality of 22% following the bleaching. 

The number one threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change. The best way to build the Reef’s resilience in a changing climate is to understand and then reduce all the other stressors impacting on it. With the World Meteorological Organisation now predicting that 2016 is set to be the world's hottest year on record, this has never been more important.

The report shows that the deep ocean is also impacted, with warming now recorded at least 2,000 metres below the sea surface.

Dr Helen Cleugh, CSIRO