Australia State of the Environment Report 2001 (Theme Report)
Lead Author: Dr Peter Manins, Environmental Consulting and Research Unit, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Authors
Published by CSIRO on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2001
ISBN 0 643 06746 9
Climate Variability and Change (continued)
Australia's involvement in international research [A Indicator 1.21]
The global nature of the climate system and the effects on Australia of climate variability require an international and interdisciplinary approach to improved prediction of climate and to reduce climate-related losses and benefit from opportunities. Participation in international research programs and activities allows Australia to benefit from overseas experience and to influence the international decision-making process. Australian researchers contribute significantly to various international climate-related projects through climate monitoring, research, impact assessments and policy activities.
Climate research in Australia is conducted by many organisations, but the main contributors to international programs are the BoM, CSIRO, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Environment CRC, the Australian Antarctic Division and several universities and government departments. The Directory of Climate and Atmospheric Research in Australia (NCCAS 1991; BoM 1999) presents a comprehensive listing of Australian institutions undertaking international research.
Australia is active in the Global Climate Observing System program built on the World Weather Watch Global Observing System and the Integrated Global Ocean Services System. Both programs have surface-based and space-based observing components. The objective of the Global Climate Observing System is to ensure acquisition of data for:
- climate system monitoring, climate change detection and monitoring the effects of and the response to climate change, especially in terrestrial ecosystems and mean sea level
- application of climate information to national economic development
- research towards improved understanding, modelling and prediction of the climate system.
The other significant involvement of Australia in international climate research activity is through the World Climate Research Programme. This Programme is concerned with development of fundamental scientific understanding of the climate system and climatic processes, an understanding that is required for predicting climate variability and change. The research effort includes studies of the global atmosphere, oceans, sea and land ice, and the land surface, which together constitute the global climate system.
The Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment is a program to observe, understand and model the hydrological cycle and energy fluxes in the atmosphere, at land surfaces and in the upper oceans. The goal of the program is to reproduce and predict the variations in the global hydrological regime, its effect on atmospheric and surface dynamics, and its response to environmental change, such as increased greenhouse gases. The World Ocean Circulation Experiment uses direct observations and ocean models to improve understanding of key elements of the global ocean circulation, especially the transport of heat and salinity.
The Climate Variability and Predictability Program aims to describe and understand climate variability and predictability, on time scales ranging from the seasonal to the centennial, through the observation, analysis and modelling of atmosphere-ocean-ice-land interactions and the effects of human activities on climate. This program is divided into three components:
- a study of seasonal to interannual climate time scale
- decadal to centennial time scale
- modelling and detection of anthropogenic climate change.
The international program on Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate is highly relevant to Australia as it is focused on problems associated with the depletion of stratospheric ozone. The BoM maintains the national ozone observation program and provides basic data.
Australia contributes strongly to the IPCC through provision of lead authors and contributors, organisation of, and participation in, task groups and workshops, and expert review and country review. This involvement covers assessment of science relevant to climate change (Working Group I), assessment of effects and response options (Working Group II) and cross-cutting economic and other issues (Working Group III). Further details can be found in BoM (1999).
As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Conference of the Parties' requirements, Australia conducts research on variability of extreme weather events, the causes and rate of climate change and on other human-induced influences on climate.