Transcript of the Navigating climate change projections webinar

Heather Field:

Okay. Our webinar today is on looking inside the refreshed Climate Change in Australia website. In this webinar, we will hear from two terrific research scientists from the CSIRO Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub. We'll hear from John Clarke and Michael Grose, who will walk us through the refreshed Climate Change in Australia website and highlight some of the improvements and new content. First up, we have John Clarke. John is going to take us through the website and what it includes and some of the new content and some of the key tools, including the Climate Change Explorer tool, Climate Analogs, Thresholds Calculator, and Climate Future tool.

Heather Field:

So John has over a decade of experience developing and delivering climate projections tailored to the needs of practitioners and researchers in the climate impacts and adaptation field. John and the CSIRO Regional Projections Team previously led the development of the Climate Change in Australia website and its 14 web tools including the Thresholds Calculator tool. So over to you, John. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

John Clarke:

Great. Thanks, Heather. Can you hear me okay?

Heather Field:

Yes, certainly can.

John Clarke:

All right. Brilliant. Thanks. Thank you, and welcome, everyone. Like a lot of people, I guess, I'm doing this from home. I'm in Dja Dja Wurrung Country in the Central Goldfields. So, yes, as Heather said, we developed this website, and it was first launched back in early 2016, coincident with the release of the latest national projections which came out then. This is the principle mechanism for delivering on a national scale climate change projections as developed by CSIRO and The Bureau of Meteorology. But last year, the National Environmental Science Program Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub provided some funding for us to have a look at what the shortcomings of the website might be and to address those to some extent.

John Clarke:

So what we did was we sent out surveys to all existing registered Climate Change in Australia users and well as a whole suite of other people who we identified as potential users of Climate Change in Australia and essentially got them to tell us how they use climate change information and whether or not they use Climate Change In Australia to get it, and if they don't, why not? And if they do, what's good and what's not so good? We came up with quite a long list of things, as you'd expect.

John Clarke:

Top of the list were users found the site difficult to navigate, and I guess in a related comment, the inability to search the website meant that that exacerbated the difficulty of navigation. And there was a sense that it was out-of-date, I guess because it's five years since it was first launched, so there was the perception that it was out-of-date. Part of that was the style, the look and feel. And also, there's some people have a perception that because the projections came out in 2016 that they must now be out-of-date, even though they're still the current set of global projections for the world, in fact, although that's rapidly changing. So if you've used the site before, you'll notice that it looks different. The URL is the same. It's at the bottom of the screen there. So you still get to it in the same way. But if you had, as a consequence of the site being difficult to navigate, bookmarked any pages, those bookmarks will have to be reset because the URLs to all of the constituent pages have changed as a consequence of the navigation change.

John Clarke:

But before we dive in, just a quick couple of points for people who haven't used the website or haven't used it very much. A lot of the information that's housed in the website is presented at a regional scale, and this map shows the fundamental regionalization scheme that was used. It divides Australia into 15 regions. There are lots of good scientific reasons for doing climate projections using regionally averaged information, but that doesn't mean you can't get at finer scale information than this. But that's the fundamental kind of cookie cutter, if you like, for much of the information that's presented. In addition, we try to make additional projections data sets available to the greatest extent that we can. In 2019, some high resolution projections were done for Victoria, and that project divided Victoria up in this way, 10 regions within Victoria, and those data are also accessible through the Climate Change in Australia website. Other states have done similar work, Queensland, for example, and we're in the process of getting their data into our system. We would like to do the same with the New South Wales data, but we haven't got there yet.

John Clarke:

Okay. I'm going to switch now to the live website. So I'm hoping that now everybody can see the actual website. So very quickly, this is the same screen I was showing you a minute ago in the PowerPoint. We now have this carousel sort of near the bottom that highlights content that we think people will be interested in. So it cycles through. This one, for example, the Climate Projections For Global Warming Levels is what Michael is going to be talking about shortly. But that's a way for us to bring to the forefront information that we think people may not have been aware of yet, particularly new stuff. That's the first thing we did to make information easier to find. The second thing we did was we put in this search function. It wasn't a trivial process, which is why it wasn't done in the first place. But now, for example, you can search for anything you like, and it brings up a list of hits. You can then refine those results to narrow down the list and go straight to the page that you're interested in this way.

John Clarke:

Go back to the home page again. The other thing that changed is the general navigation. If you remember the old site, there was a thing called a mega menu up the top, which many users failed to even notice was there, and it was really quite clunky. This is a much cleaner and easier to understand arrangement of the information, if you like. Under the Overview, you'll find information about this website, but also some of the background science, information about how the climate system works, what we know about causes of past change, information on adaptation across the country, and as well as details about the actual projections themselves that are available through this website.

John Clarke:

Then under the Changing Climate topic, that's where you can go in and find out more information about the actual changes that are occurring. This is where you'll find the new content that Michael's going to be speaking about later on. But also, much of this has been reworked. We now have state based climate statements, for example. So we can jump straight into Victoria and get a report, if you like, that is carefully crafted words specific to the Victorian situation. This scale of information wasn't available before because the regions that we used crossed over state boundaries for a range of reasons. But this was something that the surveyed users told us they felt was missing. There's also now a national scale statement as well, which draws very heavily on the current State of the Climate Report for Australia, the most recent one of which came out last year.

John Clarke:

This menu, the Projections Tools menu, is self-explanatory, I guess, to how you get to the various tools that are available, and we'll dive into those very shortly. But just quickly to touch on the other menu items, and you'll notice that this menu is still here, even though we've dived into a specific section of the website. There's a menu for obtaining data sets, where you can download gridded location based data as well as find out about the application ready data that are available. Bunch of communications resources. For example, you can get hold of a copy of the technical report from the Climate Change in Australia work and the various cluster reports. You can also find out about journal papers that underpin the science and a range of other bits and pieces, including some videos and PowerPoint presentations that are downloadable and usable.

John Clarke:

Under the Learning Support menu item there's information that is specifically around improving your understanding of climate projections and climate projection science, and how to use climate projections. The under the Projects menu, this is where you can find specific bits of work that we've undertaken that have resulted in climate projections as outputs. You'll see the Victorian climate projections that I alluded to before is mentioned here, also this bit of work that's specific to the electricity sector, which is a work in progress. The final webpages for that will be available soon.

John Clarke:

All right. So let's dive in. As Heather said, we're going to take a look at a subset of these 14 tools. I'm going to start with the tool that provides the most sort of high-level, if you like, the most broad brush statements about climate change, and go through to a more detailed set. So if I jump into this so-called Regional Climate Change Explorer, you can see straight away a map, and it's showing us Australia divided up into four. I can change that to so-called clusters, which divides Australia up into eight, or the super clusters that I showed you before, which is the finest scale we have for this type of information, which divides Australia up into those 15 sub-cluster regions.

John Clarke:

But if I was to click on one of those, it highlights to show me which area is being talked about, and we get key messages about, in this case, Western Victoria. These are statements that have been carefully crafted by the scientists in CSIRO and the bureau, so you can be confident that if you needed to get some words to use in a briefing note or something that you've got to give to some users where you want to make sure that the words are absolutely reliable, then you can just take them from here verbatim. That was the major intention of this tool is to be able to provide you with that sort of information. It also gives statements about the level of confidence that we have in the statement. So there, for example, "Average temperatures will continue to increase in all seasons, very high confidence."

John Clarke:

You can get a little more detail by clicking on these little open up panels, these concertinas, but it's still quite general. If you want more detail on that, the next best bet would be this so-called Summary Data Explorer, which provides you similar information, but it gives you a standardized set of information for a number of different variables, including maximum temperature, rainfall, evapotranspiration. You can access these bar plots, which are a bit hard to read. If you don't understand how to read them at all, scroll down and you'll find this information about what is actually shown in the bar plot. But if you want a larger version so that you can actually see it and read the numbers, then open it up in any image viewer and you can get the full-sized version. You can also download the data that underpin these plots, and that will come down as a CSV file, which you can open straight up into Excel. There's a similar tool called the Extremes Data Explorer, which works in exactly the same way but provides information relating to climatic extremes.

John Clarke:

Okay. I'm going to stop on that one now and jump to the Climate Analogs tool. The Climate Analogs concept isn't new. This is not something that we invented. It's been around for a long time. What we did was we just developed up a tool that makes it easier for people to get at this so-called Climate Analogs information. The idea with it is that you can say, "Okay, what's the future climate for my location likely to be in terms of the current climate somewhere else?" It's like a space for time analog. So when you first load up this tool, it asks you if you want to allow location to be disclosed. If you say yes, it will go off and do its best to find out where you are. Like I said, I'm in the Central Goldfields. So Bendigo is the closest town that's available in this system to me. So it has immediately provided some results.

John Clarke:

What it's showing me is, this white dot is Bendigo and all these other dots are towns that match Bendigo's future climate, Bendigo's plausible future climate, under these settings. So RCP 8.5, that's the high emissions pathway 2030, so that's the nearest future time point we can get at, and this so-called description of the future, this is the maximum consensus future. This is where most of the models agree that this is the range of change that's plausible. But we could also look at the hottest, driest plausible version of the future climate for these settings or the least hot and wettest version of that future climate. And we can, of course, dial up different time periods.

John Clarke:

The important thing to note about this is that while it's giving me quite a long list of matches, it's providing those matches based solely on the projected changes in annual rainfall and temperature. But if I open up this options panel, I just clicked on this chevron button in the top right corner of the map and it brings out this options panel, it's showing me the settings that have been used so far. So I have annual temperature ticked, and annual rainfall ticked, and the percent of the rainfall that falls in summer ticked. So they're the default settings, but I can change those. If I was particularly interested in autumn rainfall, I might tick autumn rainfall, and I could also reduce the tolerance so that a match has to be more exact in order for it to be identified.

John Clarke:

You can see that as I narrow those numbers down, the number of dots on the map is reducing. Eventually, you'll get to a point where there's one or perhaps no matches. So I've got one match now, Adelaide. That doesn't mean that is the future for Bendigo. It is a plausible future for Bendigo, because if I used a different season, I would get different results quite probably. It's not an exact science, this. It's intended to really be a communication tool and a conversation starter. Because if you're talking to a neighbor and say, "Hey, our climate might become a bit like Adelaide," they've probably got a perception of what life's like in Adelaide. So straight away they can start to personalize what that future climate might mean to them. It's a very powerful tool. Liz Hamilton from Ag Vic has done quite a bit of work with this tool, putting together fact sheets for farmers around the state, and they've been really effective. Liz used this tool to get at those information, along with a bit of additional info that we provided for her.

John Clarke:

All right. The next one I'm going to jump to is the Thresholds Calculator. I'm zooming in on these particular tools because these are the tools that we're often asked about my most people. You'll see that there's a whole bunch of others, including a Coastal Marine Projections tool and this Times Series Explorer tool. I'm not going to spend time on those today, but I encourage you to have a look and see what you think of those. There are, of course, many other places you can get information on coastal and marine, and the CoastAdapt Portal is one I would direct you to. That's got our data, but it's packaged up in a different way.

John Clarke:

So back to the Thresholds Calculator. It's asking me for my location as well. Same kind of deal as with the Analogs, it goes off and finds the nearest town. It's giving me results for the default settings, which, again, are 2030's high emissions. In this case, it's telling me about the number of days per year, on average, when the maximum temperature's exceeded 30. It's telling me up here, based on the historic data that this tool uses, the so-called AWAP data, now called the Australian Gridded Climate Data product from the bureau. From that data set, it's saying there was an average of 47 days per year between 1981 to 2010 where the maximum temperature exceeded 30 degrees. And in this future setting, 2030 high emissions, it's showing us the results from an eight model subset that we developed for this work.

John Clarke:

You can see there's a range of different results from the different models. And so below that, we provide some summary statistics. It's simply the minimum and maximum of those eight values and the mean computed from those eight values, just to give you an idea of what those projected changes look like for your town. So if I change the settings, I could dial up, say, days above 45 degrees, or days above 30, or anything between. I could also look at minimum temperature and look at days above minimum temperature above 20 up to 30 degrees. That's essentially the overnight temperature, if you like. So the dairy sector, for instance, are often interested in overnight temperatures somewhere around 24 degrees. If we, say, looked at 2050 and redraw the map so it shows us the updated results, then dial up, say, Bairnsdale, we can see that historically, in the historic data set here, there was only 0.3 days per year. It's projected that that could increase to up to almost one day a year or somewhere around one day in four years, something like that.

John Clarke:

There's also rainfall information available through this tool. Specifically, we have information on, a bit like the temperature thresholds, number of days per year where the daily rainfall falls within the 99.9th percentile, so one day in 1,000, if you like. That's not especially extreme, but it's starting to get up there. If I redraw the map now and show that, see, it's a very different looking map, and it's got holes in it. These are actually holes where there are no data available. But again, it works in exactly the same way as the other ones I've shown you.

John Clarke:

This one is a drought metric. This is a metric that the bureau publishes data on routinely. It's the number of months in a 12 month period where the total monthly rainfall falls within the first decile. So pretty dry conditions. There we go. If I, say, bring up Bendigo again, see, historically it's saying there was 1.14 months on average per 12 month period, and here's the range for the projections, and 1.17, so almost the same up to two. So an increase in that, as you'd expect.

John Clarke:

All righty. So, that's the Thresholds Calculator. It's important with all of these tools that you have a look at this information that's underneath the tool. It gives a description of how the tool works and the methods that we used. For this, once we get into this level of detail, really important that you understand the limitations in these data sets. So I encourage you to go and have a look at that if you're going to be using these tools.

John Clarke:

Now, the last one I'm going to look at is the so-called Climate Futures tool. It's an advanced tool, and you'll have to be a registered user if you want to use this particular tool. Essentially how this tool works, and you can go to this page and find out a bit more, essentially what it does is it takes the projected changes from all of the available models and it looks at whether those changes fall into which of these categories in terms of two climate variables, usually temperature and rainfall. So for a given model that has a temperature increase of two degrees and an increase in rainfall of 10%, it's going to say, "Well, okay. Well, it belongs in that box," the one I'm pointing to. It does that for every model and then just color codes the boxes according to the numbers of models that are in each box.

John Clarke:

This is useful because it allows us to immediately see that there's a clustering of results here. But mindful of the fact that every one of the global models that we use has been assessed, evaluated, and deemed to produce plausible results. That means that every one of these futures is a plausible future that shouldn't be ignored. But looking at it this way allows us to focus in on, for example, we might decide that for our particular application, a future that's hotter and drier than the past is taking us in a bad news direction. That might be our sort of worst case area. So looking at this plot, we could say, this region of the plot we would call the worst case. And conversely, perhaps, this region over here where it's not getting as hot and it's actually getting slightly wetter, we might describe that as a best case. Then using the tool, we can explore what that means.

John Clarke:

So I'll jump in and just show you some results. It's always slightly nerve-racking, this bit, because if it's going to break, it'll break now. We all know that. So let's just bring up some basic information. We don't have time for me to teach you how to use this, but I'll just quickly bring up some results. This map shows the region that I've selected, and all of the data that it's going to present us with are averages computed across that region. So you can see, same as we just looked at, we've got mean surface temperature across the top. We've got annual rainfall on the left. We've got five categories of change in rainfall from much drier to much wetter, and four categories of change in temperature, each with their associated temperature range values.

John Clarke:

If, like I just described, we'd identified that the hottest, driest plausible future is what we would call our worst case, we can expand that box and have a look at what it says. There's only one model in there, but like I say, it's a model that produces a plausible future, so we should consider it. It's saying a rainfall decline of, let's say, 17%, and a temperature increase of 1.62 degrees. That's some useful information that may well be directly applicable to a certain application. Or you may want to get more detail on that, and this tool allows you to populate each of these boxes with a lot more data than that, if that's what you need.

John Clarke:

But I'll leave it there because it's a very complex tool. We actually run a two day course to teach people how to use this. So it's not something we can adequately cover right now. But I just wanted to show it. If you haven't seen it before, it's a very powerful tool for impact assessment and adaptation planning. If you haven't used it, I would encourage you to have a bit of a look at it and we can help you out, figure out the best way to use it.

John Clarke:

Just finally, the only other thing I'd say is that if you aren't a registered user and you need to become one, go to the Sign In menu and just click Don't Have an Account. You just have to set stuff that you do every other day, probably. Put in your email, set a password, submit it. You'll get an email verification. When you click on that email it should take you to a page where you just answer a few questions and then you're registered. Lately, some people have had trouble with the registration. Every time I tried it works fine. So if you do have trouble, just drop us an email and we'll sort it out. So I'll stop there. Thanks, Heather.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you, John. Yeah, really good opportunity to look through some of the improvements to the website. It does look very user-friendly. I'm definitely looking forward to having a bit of a play around with the Thresholds Calculator tool particularly around the temperature data for an application I'm looking at. We do just have a couple of questions, and I thought I might flick to those first before we move on to Michael-

John Clarke:

Okay, cool.

Heather Field:

... just because they're quite specific. We had a question around, how were the eight models used in the Threshold Calculator selected?

John Clarke:

Okay. Having just told you how easy it is to find this, I imagine I'm not going to be able to find it now on the spur of the moment. We went through a process using that Climate Futures approach, actually. Our colleague, Leanne Webb, did most of this work. She looked at the range of change from all the models using Climates Futures for temperature, rainfall and wind in both annual change and seasonal changes, and shortlisted the models according to those criteria. We were looking for models that sample that range adequately. Then within that, she then looked at, okay, which models were identified in the model evaluation work that was done as models with good skill, sort of up towards the top in terms of skill?

John Clarke:

Then the next criterion was the models have to be able to provide enough of the sorts of climate variables that people tend to be interested in, and those are some of the ones that we've looked at already today. Finally, because these global climate models are incredibly complex computer programs and there's an international community working on this stuff, there's a lot of sharing of code. And so it's possible to develop up a family tree of the models, a taxonomy, if you like, that shows the inter relatedness among the models. And so the final step was to then identify models that were as little related as possible, trying to get to a point where they are as independent of each other as possible. So, that's how that was down.

Heather Field:

Great. The other-

John Clarke:

Oh, can I just add to that? Sorry, Heather.

Heather Field:

Yeah, sure.

John Clarke:

There's a really important caveat, though. As soon as you move away from looking at the results from the entire set of models and go to a subset, you have to make some compromises. There will be things like in a given season for a given part of Australia, those eight models won't necessarily adequately represent the full range of projected change. But on the whole, across the whole country, they do a very good job of that. So it's just something to keep in mind. As soon as you reduce the number of models, you start to make compromises.

Heather Field:

Thanks, John. The other question was around the RCP 8.5. The question was, is it still accurate to say our emissions are currently tracking along RCP 8.5? And so if we were wanting to share data, does it make sense to share the data for RCP 8.5? Your thoughts?

John Clarke:

Yeah, okay. I mean, it's a bit contentious, and Michael may like to offer some insight too, because Michael's more in touch with this than I am. We still encourage people to use RCP 8.5 for the near term. If you're looking at 2030, for example, then this is partly a data availability issue, but also partly because we have been tracking close to RCP 8.5, and there's some suggestion that we've dropped below that now in terms of emissions. But how that plays out in terms of concentrations is a different question, and we still think it's appropriate to do that for projections out to 2030. But having said that, we push back against the terminology, "Business as usual," as a way of describing that RCP 8.5, which, that terminology has been used quite a lot. We're not keen on it. But, yeah, I don't know whether Michael wants to jump in on that question.

Michael Grose:

Sure. As you said, it's a matter of some judgment or opinion. There's no one knows the future. Originally, the different RCPs or scenarios were all presented as possible and given no probability to them. So we're not saying, "We'll probably follow this one. We might follow this one." They're just all given as being possible. But what's happened in recent years, you can look at the current policies and the pledges the governments are making. You can kind of see what that's consistent with if we do follow through on those pledges and policies. It does look like some good news now, recent years, with some of these policies and technological changes that the very high end is looking less plausible and we're more on a track something in the middle. With very recent changes with the Biden summit and all this kind of thing, there's even potential for even more optimism on getting off that high track, for sure.

Michael Grose:

Similarly, at the low end, there's a lot of discussion and conjecture about how possible it is to get down to a very low one and avoid a global warming of one and a half degrees, which would be a very low stat, even lower than the lowest one presented here by John. It's still possible, but it would require a huge amount of effort and transformation. So, yeah, the top end, the bottom end are hard to put a bound on, but it does look like at the moment we're moving back, moving towards following something in the middle rather than at the very hot end, which is good news, but still more needed.

Heather Field:

Great. Thanks. Thanks, Michael, and thank you, John, for your presentation. We have a couple more questions, but we might move to Michael now. We will come back to those couple of questions. So Michael Grose is also with the CSIRO, and today he's going to give us some background maps and charts on some of the new content around global warming levels. Michael is also a research scientist with the CSIRO working on regional climate change processes, attributions and projections, and has a strong interest in climate research and communications on topics with impact, acting as lead author of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report and the biannual Australian State of the Climate Reports. So I'll hand over to you, Michael, to share your part of the presentation.

Michael Grose:

Thanks very much, Heather. Thanks, John. Thanks, everyone, and good to be with you. Yeah, I'm really privileged to be a lead author on the IPCC Report that is going to come out in July. But just to let you know, there's a lot of lead authors. I'm not the head of anything. There's a lot of lead authors, a lot of coordinating lead authors, and then there's me. But it's a big effort, and it's very exciting to be involved in.

Michael Grose:

So I'm going to talk to you about a new set of pages that are on the website. This comes under the Changing Climate category. When you go down to Future Climate Scenarios, you can now look at it through two ways. Under the different greenhouse gas pathways going forward. You can also look at it in what I'm going to talk to you about, which is the global warming levels. These new pages don't have a lot of interactive tools or anything involved in them. So they're pretty basic pages. There's a little bit of clicking and stuff through to look at the information, but it's fairly static. So I'll just cover it in some slides here, and then we can go back and show how to navigate to it if there's time.

Michael Grose:

But just because it's of such interest now because of things like the Paris Agreement 2015 where the world was going to pledge to keep global warming below two degrees and aim to keep it at 1.5 degrees, and now people are using this language a lot, it's going to be an important part of the discussion and a part of the world we live in going forward with on what do global warming levels mean and what do they mean for Australia? Now, this section doesn't have a lot of really targeted, useful information for people in any one place in Australia. It's all quite high-level. You're probably going to say, "Oh, I can't use this directly in what I'm doing," and fair enough. We're hopefully going to add more with time and add some more specific regional information and on the variables and things that people care about on the ground. But we thought we'd start with some background information and general information about what it means, how to interpret it, and how to understand what's meant by these terms, and a big picture of what it means for Australia.

Michael Grose:

So these two graphs are schematics of what you might think of as the emissions pathway way of looking at things or lens of looking at the future, also called a Dimension of Integration. The second one is a global warming level kind of view. So the first one says, well, we've got to where we are now. Going into the future, we could follow different pathways forward, and then we can look at what the result is at different times through the rest of this century and further on.

Michael Grose:

The global warming level lens or view of the world would be, so, well, the world has already warmed up since the pre industrial climate and predominantly because of what human emissions have done to it. It looks like we could go further into different warming levels into the future. What does the world look like if the world does get to those levels? And what does it look like in Australia if the world gets to those levels, no matter whether we get there sooner or later in the century? So we might get to two degrees in 2050. We might get to it in 2090. But what does two degree level look like? And then look at the world in those cases.

Michael Grose:

There is a third one, which is there's a pretty good straight line relationship between the total amount of carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas emissions that we've put into the air and the total warming of the Earth. So this is a useful way to talk about, "Well, what does that future look like under these different pathways in terms of our carbon budget? How much have we spent? How much have we got left if we want to stay to a certain level?" We don't cover that one so much, but that is another way to look at it, which is really relevant to how people talk about controlling greenhouse gas emissions and their carbon budgets and so on.

Michael Grose:

So I hope that kind of framing is clear. So, of course, we're not starting at zero. These levels are measured against what we take as the pre industrial climate. It's really hard to get good data right back to before the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s. So a kind of a compromise is 1850 to 1900 as a kind of an early in the industrial era period where the climate was fairly stable, and how much has climate changed since then? Here's a plot of global average temperature relative to that level. You can see there's a bit of uncertainty. There's a great band around that. It shows that recent years are above one degree but below 1.5 degrees relative to that baseline. Forecasters have had a look and kind of saying, "Well, there's about a one in five chance that we'll have a year, a single year, at one and a half degrees or more in the next few years." But does that mean we've reached that warming level? Well, not really. That's just an individual year. It doesn't mean the climate has reached that point.

Michael Grose:

Of course, that's the global average. It's very different in different places in the world. Not everywhere has experienced that one to 1.1, that kind of level. You can see on the map on the right, this is an indication by a color scale. The redder the color, the more warming it's experienced, from areas of the Southern Ocean, which haven't warmed relative to that period through to places in the Arctic where it seems like it's warmed by about three or four degrees since pre industrial climate. Australia is kind of in the middle, probably perhaps it's similar to the global average of land, well, there it is, I'll get to that in a minute, but less than some of the big continents in the Northern Hemisphere.

Michael Grose:

Just going to the next slide, when will we really get to those levels, not an individual year but like the climate will have reached that level? Just back one, John. It's where the 10 year average reaches that level. Yeah. Sorry, I didn't really need to go back. And so the 10 year average there smoothed out, we can kind of say we're pretty much at 1.1 degrees now, the world is. There's a range of uncertainty around that. It could be down below one. It could be up at 1.25. But that's the kind of window we're looking at as what the warming level we're at now is.

Michael Grose:

Okay. Now go to the next one, John. Thanks. So then, of course, the question is, well, when could we reach these well-known numbers like 1.5, two, et cetera? Well, it really, really depends which pathway the world follows. That's why everyone talks about reducing emissions. So from on the left, that high, very high pathway, 8.5, which is now looking, thankfully, less likely, through to a very low emissions pathway on the right. They're not the lowest that we could possibly do, but a plausible low scenario.

Michael Grose:

You can see there's a very different situation of when we might reach those different windows of possibility, when we might reach those global climate, global warming levels. On the left, it could get up to four degrees since industrial, which would be pretty scary. On the right, a very low emissions pathway. Likely we'll get to 1.5 and could get to two, but it gives us a good chance of staying below two degrees of global warming.

Michael Grose:

Okay, next slide. So what about Australia? Australia has warmed up a little bit more than the global average because the Australian land area, because as some of those previous maps showed, land's been warming up more than oceans. You can see on these graphs here, it's a little bit complicated, but I hope you can see what's happening. So the global average is in black, and you can see the recent 10 years is at about 1.1 degrees. The global land average is in blue and you can see that's higher because it's why land's been warming up more than ocean. Australia is in blue, global land is in red, and they're very similar. They're maybe about 1.5 to 1.6 degrees. It's different in different states within Australia. So Queensland, South Australia about 1.7, Tasmania down at about 1.1. Victoria's at about 1.4. Yeah. These are all given around. So these are all estimates.

Michael Grose:

If we look forward into the future, if we continue on the same kind of trajectory we've been on, the globe reaches 1.5 degrees in the mid-2030s, and at this time, Australia and global land would be up above two degrees. So this is kind of showing it's different in different places, more on land, and Australia's similar to land in general. But it's much, much less than places like the Arctic, which two degrees of global warming for the Arctic really means locally way more than that.

Michael Grose:

Okay, next slide. So just taking a longer term perspective, even earlier than 1850, we can see how does this compare to what's happened in the last 1,000 years? You can see the change is a lot stronger and a lot more rapid. Well, of course, there has been always increases and decreases in Australian temperature. This is our best view based on what we call paleo records, records from nature that record features that correlate to the temperature. We can make an estimate of what the temperature was in the past. You can see there was probably changes of plus or minus half a degree perhaps even over the last 1,000 years, but the recent period is very unusual.

Michael Grose:

The other thing we can see is that Australian average temperature has experienced emergence. It's now completely outside the window of what we would have expected in the pre industrial climate. The last year within that range was probably, sorry, 2011. I said 2100 there. That's a typo. 2011. And 2019, Australia's hottest year on record, is what would be something like an average year if the world gets to 1.5 degrees global warming.

Michael Grose:

Okay. Next slide, please, John. Looking into the future, we can look at the pattern of change globally. It's similar to what we experienced in the past but obviously goes further. So in 1.5, two, three, or four, you get the same spacial pattern. Land more than ocean, Southern Ocean still a minimum, still cools the least, and Arctic very much a worrying hot spot, and the large continents more than the oceans.

Michael Grose:

So next slide. Looking specifically at Victoria, we can look at what the projected increase in warming is relative to that baseline from a while ago or compared to the recent baseline used in a lot of other kind of projections. We can look at model results and we can plot those for each of those different worlds. So you can see since the pre industrial period, Victoria projected in a 1.5 degree world to be about 1.5 degrees or a little bit more warmer, consistent with past trends. If we go from a recent baseline, it's a bit less than that because we already had some change before that. That ratio stays pretty similar going through the different levels out to four degrees.

Michael Grose:

Next slide, please. Obviously, climate change doesn't mean everything else stays the same and just everything gets a bit warmer. There's a lot of flow-on effects to a lot of other aspects of the world, including changes to weather systems, changes to atmospheric circulation and so on, leading to changes in average rainfall and also rainfall extremes. We've got some information about average rainfall change in the new pages, including the kind of maximum consensus or mean view of what models are saying about projected rainfall, that John mentioned before, under each of those warming levels. It's kind of an emerging pattern, stronger and stronger, of very much likely to get wetter in the South West annually if we get to each of these levels and keep going further up through them.

Michael Grose:

A little bit less certain and maybe possible of no change, or possible increase, or possible decrease is in places like Northern Australia. But South West is certainly a very strong kind of a signal coming through. Seasonally, it can be very different, and the next one shows the May to October rainfall, kind of more the Southern cool season. You can see the situation is even stronger there, where if we get up to something like three or four degree world, then South West, Western Australia could be expected to be more than 20, maybe 30% drier than it is today consistently.

Michael Grose:

Of course, I don't need to tell you guys, but what that means is droughts come along on top of that. That's the new average. That's the new mean state. It's just that much drier. Then if you get a dry period, it's even lower than that. So a change in the average state means everything is just very different. Even at those higher warming levels, you seem to get a strong signal in Southern and Eastern Australia too, coming through as likely to get drier. Some of these results are available as bar charts, similar to what John showed. This is one for Victoria as a whole for the different seasons for the different worlds there. You can see, yeah, that cool season, especially the higher warming levels, especially in spring, the projections don't look so good.

Michael Grose:

So just to recap a little bit on the last slide, we've got some results by these global warming levels for temperature and rainfall for states and those NRM clusters and super clusters. We go through historical warming from that early baseline, which is kind of earlier than we usually look at. We talk about emergence from pre industrial climate. We talk about the new norm, the equivalent to these warming levels that we've already experienced. 2019 Australia was consistent with an average year in a 1.5 degree world. We also have methods and references there to read. We'd be really interested in adding more, and more info about especially extremes and what extreme events look like in a 1.5 degree world or a two degree world and what that means on the ground as well. And just acknowledgement to all of the team and collaborators who helped produce the pages. Thanks very much.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you, Michael. Yeah, really good to have a bit of a closer look at that new content around the global warming levels. So if you do have any questions, please pop them in the chat. We've got about 10 minutes to address those. We've got the website open, and I've also included the link to the website in the chat box if you want to have a bit of a play around and think of any questions in the next 10 or so minutes. We do have a couple of questions. The first one would be to either John or Michael, and it's about, can we export the background data behind the generated maps within the website?

John Clarke:

Sometimes you can and sometimes you can't. It depends on the particular part of the website that you're in. With the new content that Michael's talked about, you can right click on those images and download those. I don't think we make any data sets available per se through those pages. He's shaking his head. Just trying to think of an example. Full disclosure, there's some of our download capability is currently not functioning and some of it is, which is very annoying. So let's say I just draw up a set of data here on the Map Explorer, which is a tool that we didn't walk through before. Those data used to be available for download, and currently, that's not working. So if you need those data, if it's just gridded changes from a global climate model, you can get those through this Gridded Data Download tool. When you go there, you've got to be signed in, which I can do. That's fine. Gridded Data Download Tool is essentially just a set of queries, and once you provide the information for all of those bits of information, you can then download the data.

John Clarke:

The Thresholds Calculator does allow you to download the underlying data. So at the moment you can see it's drawn up results I showed before for Bendigo for those above 30 from one of the models. So the thing to remember here is that what you're seeing on the map is just one of the eight models, and when you hit the Download button, you're just going to get the one model that's displayed. And choose a number of different formats to download it in. You have to acknowledge that you've read the terms of use and so forth, which is essentially the data are not available for commercial use. And there you go. So it does depend on the tool. If there's a data set that you need and you can't get hold of, then just go in here, Learning and Support, and Contact Us, and you can either email us directly, there's three of us here in the team who receive these emails, or you can fill out a form and provide us with a bit of detail, and then we can follow up.

Michael Grose:

A quick note on the warming levels pages. They're very much just viewable pages for info and background reading at the moment. There's very little interaction. There's very little downloadable data, there's very little or none for doing things with. But that's something that we'd like to get to next. So if you have particular things that you'd like to get hold of, the data behind any of the plots that are there or other data that couldn't naturally flow on from what is there, especially the things that are the easiest, then we'd really like to know what's most interesting for people. We just thought we'd start with the pages first so you can start reading and getting some info, and start viewing some maps, but then data download would be next.

John Clarke:

Again, if there is something that you'd like to give us some suggestions for that type of content, feel free to contact either of us or use that Contact Us page on the website. Cool.

Heather Field:

Great. Thank you both for that. We've only got one more question at the moment, and that was in regards to the tool, I think it was the last tool that you showed us, John, where there is a fair bit of training that needs to be involved to use that, and the question is around, how often do you run the two day training course on that tool?

John Clarke:

Okay. I'm hoping to run at least one course before the end of June. We have to run these courses on a cost recovery basis, so they work out about $500 per person for two days, and they're very full-on days. It's quite full-on. But that course is specifically targeting people who need to use quantitative climate projections in fairly sophisticated ways. So, for example, I gave the example before of time series data for a cropping model. That's the sort of thing we're talking about, where you might need, say, daily time step data for maximum temperature, evapotranspiration, rainfall, relative humidity all plugged in at once into something, I don't know, APSIM or something like that. So that's the target audience for that training.

John Clarke:

The NESP Hub has been running some training that's less detailed than that, less advanced and more about how to undertake a risk assessment. That uses some of the tools we've looked at today, but not so much the Climate Futures tool. So, that's another possibility. Actually running one of those, we've just run a set of those for the electricity sector. Michael and I have both been involved in that. So if that's something you're interested in, then, again, get in touch and we can talk about that.

Heather Field:

Sure.

John Clarke:

The NESP project, the NESP One Program is winding up now, but NESP Two is on the horizon. We don't yet know whether there'll be opportunities for us to keep delivering this type of outreach work through that at this stage, but I'm hopeful that we will.

Heather Field:

Great. Thanks, John. We have just got one final question before we close out, and that's to Michael. The question is around, do you produce a report similar to your presentation?

Michael Grose:

There's no report for this set of new pages. There's just the pages themselves where you can click around and read through the material attached to it or a few technical notes, which, whether you need to delve into a bit more technical detail, which we've included as downloadable attachments on specific topics because we've got to provide the methods and the credibility behind what we're saying. Yeah. So there's no one single report on it. If that's of interest, then we could look at turning the pages into a report if people prefer to sit down and read a whole report.

Michael Grose:

Yeah. I mean, there's also going to be a whole lot more information, or there is already, but a whole lot more coming through about global warming levels and what they mean and so on because it's going to be a big focus, for example, of the IPCC Report coming out in July. That framing is going to be front and center in a few key areas. So there's a lot of other material as well coming or already here. But, yeah, I guess we just thought a big thick report is maybe the lower priority than something a bit more user-friendly. But if it's of interest, yeah, we could look at it, for sure.

Heather Field:

Great. Thanks, Michael, and thanks, everyone, for your questions. If you do, yeah, have any more questions or once you've had a play around with the website, yeah, feel free to directly email John or Michael or go in through that Contact Us section of the website if you can't find what you're looking for. So we-

John Clarke:

Just picking up on the training topic, just one final thing is there are some online training resources as well, which people might find useful. So I've just put that up on the screen.

Heather Field:

Fantastic.

John Clarke:

At the moment, it's under the Learning and Support menu on the website.

Heather Field:

Great. Okay. Great. That'd be a good starting point for some of us. So we have hit one o'clock, so we will close out the webinar now. I do want to just thank Michael and John for their valuable time today, sharing and presenting the website and some of the new content of the website. It's definitely looking very user-friendly, and I'm looking forward to having a bit more of a browse through that in my spare time.

Heather Field:

So everyone who registered for today's webinar will receive an email with the recording. So if you do need to refresh yourselves, feel free to watch the recording again and share that with others that possibly couldn't make it. And we do have our short survey when you close out of today's webinar. So it'll only take a minute just to complete that. We really do appreciate that. Yeah. Stay tuned and watch out for your inbox for upcoming webinars. We hope to run a few more over the next couple of months. So thank you, Michael, thank you, John, and thank you, everyone, for your attendance today.

John Clarke:

It's a pleasure. Cheers.

Michael Grose:

Thanks, everyone. Pleasure being with you.

Page last updated: 07 May 2021