Australia’s beach lifestyle could be under threat from climate change, according to a new UN report

Weatherwatch: why slow-motion natural disasters don’t make the news

Media interest in natural disasters concentrates on events such as hurricanes that happen over a short period in a specific area. Sometimes, though, destructive weather effects build up gradually across a region over many months, like the floods afflicting the American midwest this year.

A blizzard described by the National Weather Service as “of historic proportions” in March added to already deep snow cover. Spring rains rapidly melted the snow and the inundation began. Above-average rainfall has continued through August, and a slow-motion disaster has played out…


Australia’s beach lifestyle could be under threat from climate change, according to a new UN report

Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast
“Australia’s coastal cities and communities can expect to experience what was previously a once-in-a-century extreme coastal flooding event at least once every year by the middle of this century – in many cases much more frequently.”

A new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the effects of climate change on the ocean and cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet.

The report mentions that global warming has reached 1°C above the pre-industrial level due to past and current greenhouse gas emissions. This has caused rising sea levels (hello, melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica) as well as a warmer, more acidic, and less productive ocean, which can threaten low-lying coastal cities and small islands.

The IPCC noted that while the sea level has risen globally by about 15cm during the 20th century, it is currently rising more than twice as fast – 3.6mm a year – and accelerating.

Rising sea levels increase the frequency, intensity and magnitude of tropical cyclone winds and rains, the IPCC states. And if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gasses, low lying coastal towns could be exposed to rising flood risks.

Worse still, the IPCC said some island nations are “likely to become uninhabitable” due to climate-related ocean and cryosphere change….


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