Issue: Climate variability and change - Greenhouse

This is an issue under the Atmosphere theme of the Data Reporting System.

Why we need to know about this issue

Climate patterns, variability and change are of prime importance for the economic, social and environmental health of Australia. Climatic conditions and its variability have an impact on the environment and major economic activities such as agriculture and tourism. In addition, human-induced climate change may impact on human and environmental health (e.g. biodiversity). It is therefore, important to better understand and monitor climate patterns, variability and change.

Indicators

  • A-07 Greenhouse - carbon dioxide concentrations and growth rates 
    Atmospheric constituents such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to a natural greenhouse effect and, with clouds, maintain the earth’s energy balance. The earth’s energy balance can change through increasing concentrations of these constituents in the atmosphere, as a result of human activities and natural events. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and growth rates are a direct indicator for this issue
  • A-08 Greenhouse - change in total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by gas 
    Atmospheric constituents such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to a natural greenhouse effect and, with clouds, maintain the earth’s energy balance. The earth’s energy balance can change through increasing concentrations of these constituents in the atmosphere, as a result of human activities and natural events. Change in total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by gas is a direct indicator for this issue.
  • A-38 Greenhouse - methane concentrations and growth rates 
    Atmospheric constituents such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to a natural greenhouse effect and, with clouds, maintain the earth’s energy balance. The earth’s energy balance can change through increasing concentrations of these constituents in the atmosphere, as a result of human activities and natural events. Atmospheric concentrations of methane and growth rates are a direct indicator for this issue.
  • A-39 Greenhouse - nitrous oxide concentrations and growth rates 
    Atmospheric constituents such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to a natural greenhouse effect and, with clouds, maintain the earth’s energy balance. The earth’s energy balance can change through increasing concentrations of these constituents in the atmosphere, as a result of human activities and natural events. Atmospheric concentrations of nitrous oxide and growth rates are a direct indicator for this issue.
  • A-40 Greenhouse - change in total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per capita and gross domestic product 
    Atmospheric constituents such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to a natural greenhouse effect and, with clouds, maintain the earth’s energy balance. The earth’s energy balance can change through increasing concentrations of these constituents in the atmosphere, as a result of human activities and natural events. Changes in total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per capita and gross domestic product give an indication of how well Australia is progressing in reducing greenhouse gas emissions relative to population and economic growth and as such a measure of our efficiency.
  • A-41 Greenhouse - climate change projections 
    Greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric concentrations are measurable, and provide insight into the potential for climate change. Weather phenomena are also measurable but may be indicative of either climate change or of natural fluctuations. Neither provides useful insight into what we may expect in terms of long-term changes of climate. Modelling of how climate might be changing and might change over the course of the next century is probably the only useful indicator for this.
  • A-42 Greenhouse - carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by sector 
    This indicator shows the relative contribution of the various sectors to Australia’s net emissions and therefore, which of the sectors are the major drivers in our level of net greenhouse emissions.
  • A-43 Greenhouse - carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by primary fuel type 
    Different types of fossil fuels contribute different levels of emissions to Australia’s greenhouse emissions. Emissions by fuel type is a direct indicator for this issue.
  • A-44 Greenhouse - carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by mode of travel and road transport emissions by vehicle type 
    The transport sector accounts for around 14 percent of Australia’s net emissions and therefore, is one of the major drivers in our level of net greenhouse emissions. Emissions from the transport sector by vehicle type is a direct indicator for this issue.
  • A-45 Greenhouse - agricultural sector carbon dioxide equivalent emissions 
    The agricultural sector accounts for around 19 percent of Australia’s net emissions and therefore, is one of the major drivers in our level of net greenhouse emissions. Emissions from the agriculture sector is a direct indicator for this issue.
  • A-46 Greenhouse - carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from land use, land use change and forestry 
    Carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from different land uses is a direct indicator for this issue.
  • LD-05 Terrestrial carbon loss rate and rate of land carbon sequestration 
    Loss of soil carbon to the atmosphere increases atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Rates of carbon loss and sequestration give an indication of the volumes of terrestrial carbon that are being released as atmospheric carbon and preserved as terrestrial carbon.
  • LD-39 Change in biomass stock 
    Biomass is a measure of quantity of the total mass of matter that is currently engaged in being alive. The conversion of biomass into atmospheric carbon and other greenhouse gases represents not only a reduction in organic material available for the maintenance of life forms but also an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, with implications for climate change.
  • CO-03 Sea level 
    Changes in sea level are indicative of melting polar ice and may therefore be indicative of anthropogenic climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases and the loss of greenhouse sinks.
  • CO-04 Sea surface temperature variability 
    Changes in sea temperature may be indicative of anthropogenic climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases and the loss of greenhouse sinks.
  • CO-44 Marine chlorophyll concentration 
    Marine carbon helps to absorb atmospheric carbon. Changes in marine carbon levels could signal a reduced or increased capacity for the oceans to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • CO-60 Sea salinity 
    Changes in sea salinity may result from the melting of glaciers and may therefore be indicative of anthropogenic climate change due to the emission of greenhouse gases and the loss of greenhouse sinks.
  • AAT-12 Changes in colonies of plants on Heard Island 
    Understanding the coverage and type of vegetation on the non ice area of Heard Island provides an insight into the extent of glacial retreat as a result of climate change.
  • AAT-14 Ice sheet mass balance and sea ice extent 
    The changes in ice sheets, sea ice and fast ice may be indicators of climate change. In addition, the Antarctic ice sheet and sea ice plays a major role in global climate through its influence on heat exchange between ocean and atmosphere, it assists the formation of Antarctic bottom water which sinks to the depths of the ocean subsequently driving global ocean circulation.
  • AAT-15 Glacier movement 
    Heard Island glaciers have a relatively small ice volume, so the contribution to sea-level rise through glacial melt is not a concern. However, the unique climate signal that is coming from this predominantly oceanic region is of vital importance. It indicates that the change observed elsewhere in Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes - in New Zealand, Patagonia, Kergeulen Island, South Georgia and Bouvet Island - is widespread.

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