Queensland winter too hot to handle


By Çağrı Yılmaz, Flickr

Winter temperatures are set to rise again in Queensland.

This season’s chilly temperatures have already had most of the state reaching for their woolies but data from the Bureau of Meteorology shows this winter could be one of the warmest.

Measurements from three locations in Queensland – Cape Moreton, Maryborough and Tewantin – show an average increase of 1.5 degrees in maximum winter temperatures over the past 100 years.

Warmer winters may sound attractive, but the increasing temperatures have experts worried.

Channel Seven weatherman and meteorologist Livio Regano said the rising trend over the past 100 years was a crisis.

“It’s more than concerning, it’s a national emergency,” Mr Regano said.

Climatologists work tirelessly but Mr Regano said the enormity of the rising temperatures was not being communicated.

“For the last 30 years climatologists have been predicting what the global temperature will do in the next 10 years … and they always end up underestimating it,” Mr Regano said.

“If people could actually get into their [climatologists’] shoes and see the work that they’ve done in the last 30 years everyone would be terrified.”

University of the Sunshine Coast climate change communication lecturer Kate English said people would not alter their unsustainable ways until they have a reason to.

“It takes something else to change behavior … it takes knowledge plus something else, you have to have a personal connection,” Ms English said.

She said using climate change examples like the polar bears in the North Pole and the ice melts in Antarctica were too “geographically distant” and did not have a personal impact on our population.

“They don’t have linkage with their personal life and that’s what we have to change to really get enough collective action to address this in the time that we have left,” Ms English said.

Mr Regano said extreme measures were the only way to stop the temperature increases.

“What we need now is the carbon ban because even if we’re really good … and become carbon neutral, it will take 50 to 100 years before the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere filters through the system,” Mr Regano said.

“It’ll just keep on getting warmer, even if we stop, for another 50 to 100 years until it settles down.”

The average maximum temperatures have had huge increases, especially in the past 20 years.

In the past 20 years the average maximum winter temperature increased by 1.9 degrees but Ms English said we do not have to wait to see “real world impacts”.

“Climate change is real, it’s based on science, it’s happening now, and the impacts are being felt globally,” Ms English said.

And it’s not just the environment that will suffer.

“[Climate change] has incredible impacts to the local economy [and] the local social structure as well as to the environment,” Ms English said.

Climate change is already being felt in Queensland with warming ocean temperatures bringing deadly Irukandji jellyfish down from the north.

Ms English said this was very worrying for tourism hotspots.

“That’s a really big concern to a community like Noosa … that focuses on tourism,” Ms English said.

“If people cannot swim, they will not be coming to Noosa.”

Bureau of Meteorology climate scientist Blair Trewin said there was “a clear warming trend” in winter temperatures.

Despite the temperature increases across all locations, Tewantin and Maryborough showed a strange decrease in minimum temperatures.

Maryborough displayed an average 1.3 degree decrease in minimum temperatures over the past 100 years whereas Tewantin decreased by 0.8 of a degree.

Mr Trewin said anaylsing historical weather data comes with challenges and the variances in the Maryborough and Tewantin data may be influenced by differing locations.

“Built-up locations are normally warmer than less enclosed locations, particularly at night, so moves of this type will introduce an artificial cooling into temperature trends,” Mr Trewin said.

The Tewantin weather station moved from the Post Office to the RSL park in 1991.

The location changes can be blamed for decreases in the winter minimum temperatures at both Maryborough and Tewantin, which skews the minimum temperature data.

Cape Moreton, which shows a one degree increase in minimum temperatures over the past 100 years, is seen as a more reliable source as it has fewer issues with location changes.

Mr Regano said weather stations should never be moved.

“Their purpose of existence even before forecast and warnings are to maintain an accurate climate record because that’s the only way research can be done,” Mr Regano said.

“No man, woman or beast should be able to take it down or move it.”




This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.