National coverage: Effects of changing climate in south western Australia

February 7, 2017

Murdoch scientists highlight dangers of climate change in the South-West.Local and global effects have combined to produce a marked change in the climate of south western Australia.

This complex issue was discussed in depth on ABC Radio National’s Science Show this week, featuring views from a number of Murdoch University researchers, students and alumni.

The report, compiled by Murdoch University’s Adjunct Professor of history and media Bill Bunbury OAM, painted a bleak future for the region.

Environmental scientist Dr Joe Fontaine from Murdoch University said Western Australia offered many cautionary tales for the rest of the world.

“The southwest of Western Australia is considered a Mediterranean climate region, which means we have nice wet winters and long, dry summers,” he said.

“But it turns out that this type of place, along with the other parts of the planet that have this type of climate, are the places that are warming and drying. So this is almost like a canary in the coalmine sort of place for understanding what climate change impacts may be in the future.”

Atmospheric scientist Dr Jatin Kala, also from Murdoch University, echoed Dr Fontaine’s sentiments.

“What we've also been finding in the southwest is that fronts are moving further and further south, which means that less and less hit the coast and travel through the southwest,” Dr Kala said.

“But on top of that, because we've cleared so much land we've reduced the ability of the land surface to generate conditions for air to condense out and form clouds.”

Alumnus Josh Byrne, and students Sam Worsham and Tarryn Coward were also interviewed in the program alongside WA’s Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken, researchers and other perspectives from the region.

The full show can be heard here and a transcript is available on the Science Show website.


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