Issue: Catchment scale influences - Influence of climate variability and change

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

Why we need to know about this issue

Climate patterns, variability and change have a major influence on most aspects of water resources, aquatic habitats and biota, such as land and water salinity, surface water flows, and quality of subsurface and surface waters. The effects of climate will vary from region to region. Any long term changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, due to natural or human-induced climate change, could have significant impacts on inland waters, their biodiversity, and on human water resources.

Indicators

  • A-01 Annual variation in the Southern Oscillation Index 
    A number of studies indicate that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) explains 30 - 40% of the year-to-year variability of Australia’s climate, particularly rainfall. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is a well-established measure of this phenomenon. El Niño events are associated with below-normal rainfall and often drought over much of northern and eastern Australia. They generally occur every two to seven years and are generally followed by La Niña events, which are associated with higher rainfall. Changes in the timing of these events may be indicative of longer term changes in climate which may have significant impacts on inland waters.
  • A-02 Rainfall trends - annual mean rainfall 
    Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Its interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world and about three-quarters of the land is arid or semi-arid. Rainfall trends are important from an environmental and an economic perspective. For thousands of years, Australia has experienced strong year-to-year variations in rainfall. These natural variations and any more extreme variations or changes in the normal scope of variation that may result from anthropogenic climate change are important indicators for the pressure of this change on inland waters.
  • A-03 Rainfall extremes - inter-annual variations in annual extreme rainfall 
    Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Its interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world and about three-quarters of the land is arid or semi-arid. Rainfall trends are important from an environmental and an economic perspective. For thousands of years, Australia has experienced strong year-to-year variations in rainfall. These natural variations and any more extreme variations or changes in the normal scope of variation that may result from anthropogenic climate change are important indicators for the pressure of this change on inland waters.
  • A-04 Temperature trends - annual mean temperature anomalies 
    Trends in temperatures are an indicator of climate variability and change that in turn will have an impact on the inland waters.
  • A-05 Temperature extremes - percentage area of extreme annual mean temperatures 
    Trends in temperatures and their spatial distribution are an indicator of climate variability and change, which in turn have an impact on inland waters.
  • A-36 Rainfall extremes - percentage area experiencing extreme wet and dry conditions 
    Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Its interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world and about three-quarters of the land is arid or semi-arid. Rainfall trends are important from an environmental and an economic perspective. For thousands of years, Australia has experienced strong year-to-year variations in rainfall. These natural variations and any more extreme variations or changes in the normal scope of variation that may result from anthropogenic climate change are important indicators for the pressure of this change on inland waters.
  • A-37 Temperature trends - spatial trend in mean annual temperatures 
    Trends in temperatures and their spatial distribution are an indicator of climate variability and change, which in turn have an impact on the condition of inland waters.
  • A-41 Greenhouse - climate change projections 
    Climate change projections can assist in the analysis of climatic pressures and climate driven changes to freshwater systems and aquatic biodiversity.
  • A-47 Rainfall deficiencies - drought 
    This indicator shows the level of rainfall deficiency for Australia spatially and over time. This gives an indication of the level of drought conditions in Australia; drought being an ongoing factor for Australia’s climate patterns. These natural deficiencies and any more extreme variations or changes in the normal scope of variation that may result from anthropogenic climate change are important indicators for the pressure of this change on inland waters.
  • BD-15 Examples of impacts of climate variability on selected species, habitats or ecosystems 
    As there is no continent-wide method of measuring changes that can be directly attributed to climate change across all species and habitats, examples of changes that appear to be directly attributable to this cause is at present the only useful indicator of the pressure of climate change on freshwater biodiversity.
  • 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 insight into the extent of glacial retreat as a result of climate change which may have implications for biodiversity on the Australian mainland including inland waters biodiversity.
  • 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. This indicator therefore had implications for the impacts of climate change on the Australian continent including inland waters biodiversity.
  • AAT-15 Glacier movement 
    Understanding the coverage and type of vegetation on the non ice area of Heard Island provides insight into the extent of glacial retreat as a result of climate change which may have implications for biodiversity on the Australian mainland including inland waters biodiversity.

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