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Climate change, variability and conservation impacts in Australia


Prowse, TAA and Brook, BW, Climate change, variability and conservation impacts in Australia, Pacific Conservation Biology, 17, (3) pp. 168-178. ISSN 1038-2097 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/PC110168


Australian conservation scientists, managers and decision makers must come to grips with anthropogenic climate change, imposed upon an already variable regional climate system. Pre- and post-instrumental records and climate proxies indicate that Australia has experienced wet and dry cycles over intra-decadal to millennial time scales. Precipitation variation across Australia is correlated with different climate features but reliable tools for seasonal rainfall prediction are still some years away. Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models predict a widening of the Hadley circulation and strengthening of the Southern Annular Mode, which should result in reduced cool season rainfall over southern Australia. Shifts in the Australian climate over the Holocene epoch, most notably increased ENSO variability after 5000 years ago, are associated with substantial vegetation change and indicate the speed at which ecosystems may be altered. The CO2 fertilization of plant biomes may mitigate increasing aridity to some extent but, in general, climate change is expected to negatively affect native vegetation and agricultural productivity. Sea-level rise is predicted to be substantial over this century and, when coupled with increased storm intensity, poses threats in the form of erosion, salinization and flooding. The best chance of building adaptable ecosystems and preserving ecosystem services requires the extension, integration and possibly optimization of reserve systems, in concert with improved management of other threatening processes (habitat loss, invasive species, overexploitation, pollution and disease). In addition, a price on carbon dioxide emissions would provide incentives for privately funded reforestation schemes, but additional incentives promoting mixed species over monoculture plantings would be required to assure maximum biodiversity benefits.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:conservation management, drought, el nino, southern oscillation, southern annular mode, reserve system, carbon market, review
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental assessment and monitoring
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Ecosystem adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:116020
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2017-04-28
Last Modified:2017-11-03

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