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Australian climate warming: observed change from 1850 and global temperature targets

Grose, M. R. ORCID:, Boschat, G., Trewin, B. ORCID:, Round, V., Ashcroft, L., King, A. D., Narsey, S. and Hawkins, E. ORCID: (2023) Australian climate warming: observed change from 1850 and global temperature targets. Journal of Southern Hemisphere Earth Systems Science, 73 (1). pp. 30-43. ISSN 2206-5865

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1071/ES22018


Mean annual temperature is often used as a benchmark for monitoring climate change and as an indicator of its potential impacts. The Paris Agreement of 2015 aims to keep the global average temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with a preferred limit of 1.5°C. Therefore, there is interest in understanding and examining regional temperature change using this framework of ‘global warming levels’, as well as through emissions pathways and time horizons. To apply the global warming level framework regionally, we need to quantify regional warming from the late 19th century to today, and to future periods where the warming levels are reached. Here we supplement reliable observations from 1910 with early historical datasets currently available back to 1860 and the latest set of global climate model simulations from CMIP5/CMIP6 to examine the past and future warming of Australia from the 1850–1900 baseline commonly used as a proxy for pre-industrial conditions. We find that Australia warmed by ~1.6°C between 1850–1900 and 2011–2020 (with uncertainty unlikely to substantially exceed ±0.3°C). This warming is a ratio of ~1.4 times the ~1.1°C global warming over that time, and in line with observed global land average warming. Projections for global warming levels are also quantified and suggest future warming of slightly less than the observed ratio to date, at ~1.0–1.3 for all future global warming levels. We also find that to reliably examine regional warming under the emissions pathway framework using the latest climate models from CMIP6, appropriate weights to the ensemble members are required. Once these weights are applied, results are similar to CMIP5.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:112952


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