* Hotter Australia faces more intense rains, droughts
* Warmer seas, rising ocean levels further threats - report
* More chaotic weather a challenge to miners, farmers
By David Fogarty
SINGAPORE, March 14 Australia, one of the
world's top mining and agricultural nations, faces a quickening
pace of climate change, according to a snapshot of the nation's
weather, forcing farmers to alter cropping strategies and miners
to cope with more intense floods.
The government report released on Wednesday confirms the
changing trends in rainfall and warmer temperatures across
Australia, to which farmers are adapting by growing new crop
varieties and adjusting planting times.
Coal and iron ore miners are building bigger holding dams
for flood waters, and strenthening road and rail infrastructure,
while coastal communities are being told to prepare for rising
The report, compiled by the Bureau of Meteorology and the
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
(CSIRO), looks at long-term climate trends in Australia. Its
release comes after 18 months of record rains in the country's
east, triggering floods that ended a devastating drought.
Australia is getting hotter, the pace of sea level rise
quickening, the oceans warming and rainfall patterns shifting
towards more rain in the summer, the report said.
Each decade has been warmer than the previous decade since
the 1950s, it said, with rising greenhouse gas emissions from
burning fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture blamed for
"We're certainly seeing where the rain is falling is
changing," Megan Clark, CSIRO's chief executive, told Reuters.
"We're seeing more in spring and summer ... a monsoonal
signature across Australia's north, and more rainfall in central
Australia," she said.
"And from the agricultural point of view, less autumn and
winter rain across the south."
The report is only the second joint climate snapshot, with
the first released in 2010 before the start of an intense La
Nina event that triggered months of flooding, crimping economic
growth and causing billions of dollars in insurance losses.
Australia is the world's top coal exporter, a major iron
ore producer and fourth largest wheat exporter, sectors at risk
from more chaotic weather.
IN HOT WATER
A second, weaker La Nina in 2011 brought more rains. On
Tuesday, the Bureau of Meteorology said the event was coming to
an end, but rainfall in parts of Australia could still be above
La Nina is a periodic warming of the Western Pacific Ocean.
It normally triggers above average rains and cooler weather
across northern and eastern Australia and Southeast Asia. The
opposite phenomenon, El Nino, usually brings drought and warmer
Clark said 2010-11 stood out for the peak rains and the
equally record-breaking sea surface temperatures around northern
"This consistent rise in our sea surface temperatures has
been a bit surprising," sshe said.
"The other thing we're seeing is when the conditions are
right for rain, we're getting a lot of rain."
The report shows minimum Australian temperatures at night
have warmed by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since 1910, with
most of this since 1960, and that the rate of very hot daytime
temperatures, higher than 40 degress C, has been increasing
Sea levels since 1993 around Australia's north and northwest
have been rising 7 to 11 millimetres a year, two to three times
the global average.
The report is available at: here
(Editing by Daniel Magnowski)