Cyclones less, worse
CLIMATE change may actually result in fewer, but bigger, cyclones hitting the North Queensland coast over the next century.
A climate change conference in Cairns last week heard the latest results from Australia’s leading climate scientists.
Two different groups reported on the latest computer modelling of cyclone frequency leading out to 2100.
CSIRO researcher Debbie Abbs said her research indicated rising temperatures could halve the number of tropical cyclones by the end of the century.
“On average for the period 2051-2090 relative to 1971-2000, the simulations show an approximately 50 per cent decrease in the occurrence (of cyclones) for the tropical region,” Dr Abbs said.
Dr Abbs said her computer models indicated tropical cyclones won’t last quite as long, and they will, on average, move about 100km further south.
However, she expects tropical cyclones will be more intense.
“There’s a greater risk they will occur in the more extreme category,” Dr Abbs said.
University of Melbourne Associate Professor Kevin Walsh, who is carrying out independent research into the same issue, said his preliminary conclusions were along the same lines as Dr Abbs’.
Professor Walsh said his research indicated cyclones would become 20 per cent less common by 2100, but that their maximum intensity would increase by 5 per cent.
“The most intense (cyclones) will be slightly more intense,” he told the conference.
The research confirmed a trend identified overseas and now accepted as the climate orthodoxy.
However, the conference was told other issues of concern to locals, such as future rainfall patterns, were clear.
“Many lines of evidence over many years have pointed to decreases in rain in southern Australia,” senior CSIRO scientist Penny Whetton said.
“It has been more uncertain about how precipitation will change in the north.”
The conference heard that climate change appeared to be tracking at the high end of projections.
Carbon dioxide emissions and average global temperatures were both at the mid to upper end of the predictions released by the UN’s climate change panel in 2007.
Scientists say the next round of computer simulations, which will be analysed in 2014, will provide greater climate certainty.
Devastating force: experts are tipping less frequent but more extreme cyclones such as Cyclone Yasi for the Far North