Issue: Climate and greenhouse
Clouds but no rain at a grazing
property near Braidwood
The 2002–03 drought was one of the worst on record, not only because it was dry but also because it was very hot. It also affected more of Australia than usual. As with much of the region's climate, it was driven partly by the combined effect of ocean surface temperatures and atmospheric pressures in the Pacific Ocean (see the box on drought).
Locally in Palerang Council Area this was demonstrated by the following:
- Rainfall in Braidwood township was lower in all four years of the reporting period. In 2002–03, rainfall was 40% below the long-term average and in 2003–04 this increased to 42% below average.
- Rainfall in Bungendore township was lower in all four years of the reporting period. In 2002–03 rainfall was 39% below the long-term average.
- Temperatures in the region showed an overall increasing trend across the reporting period.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gases are those gases that regulate the amount of heat trapped by the earth's atmosphere. Enhanced greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities are now considered to be contributing significantly to global warming.
No information was available on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by residents in Palerang Council Area. However, we know that residents there use energy in their homes, for travel, and in the workplace. While no data were available on the amount of energy residents consumed, a great deal of their electricity is bought from black coal-fired power stations. Although these stations are remote from the council area, residents never-the-less contribute to greenhouse gas emissions through them. Transport by residents and smoke from their wood fires in winter also cause greenhouse gas emissions.
What does this mean for the future?
It is predicted that climate change in south-eastern Australia is likely to include changes to the timing and amount of rain falling, and more extreme and more frequent fluctuations in rainfall, temperature and wind conditions (see Hennessy et al. 2004a,b). Drought in Palerang Council Area during the reporting period and the knowledge that in their daily activities residents are contributing to greenhouse gas emissions highlight the need for council and individuals to include these factors in their use and management of natural resources and planning for the future.
Hennessy, K, Page, C, McInnes, K, Jones, R, Bathols, J, Collins, D and Jones, D (2004a) Climate change in New South Wales. Part 1: Past climatic variability and projected changes in average climate. Climate Impact Group, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, available at www.cmar.csiro.au/e-print/open/hennessy_2004b.pdf.
Hennessy, K, McInnes, K, Abbs, D, Jones, R, Bathols, J, Suppiah, R, Ricketts, J, Rafter, T, Collins, D and Jones, D (2004b) Climate change in New South Wales. Part 2: Projected changes in atmospheric extremes. Climate Impact Group, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, available at www.cmar.csiro.au/e-print/open/hennessy_2004c.pdf.