Your task is to write a report that examines the ways in which climate change is predicted to impact upon your home city. What you consider to be your home city should be the one closest to your heart
Climate change refers to change in global or regional climate patterns, which is mostly attributed to increase in levels of greenhouse gases such carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides, due to extensive use of fossil fuels. The interaction of these gases and the natural environment has led to what is now commonly known as global warming. Global warming is the gradual increase of average temperature that was in most cases noted from the mid-20th century. This increase in temperatures has direct and major impacts in elements of climate and weather such as precipitation, humidity, and wind. Long term effects of changes in such weather elements result in climate change. In other words, temperature difference fuels major physical processes changes that define the climate of a region. For example, for conventional rainfall, temperature difference will power evapotranspiration, create regions of low and high air pressure thereby causing winds, cause clouds formation and eventually cause precipitation. From this example, it can be seen that temperature affects almost all elements of weather. Consequently, variation in temperature will have a great impact on wind patterns, humidity, precipitation etc.
On the global scale, Climate change has now caused observable effects on the environment that scientists had earlier predicted. Glaciers have been observed to sink, ice on rivers, strong hurricanes, the premature flowering of flowers among other effects. It is likely that one day the Arctic is going to be ice free! It is projected that the sea level will rise by 1 to 4 feet by the year 2100 (Arthurson & Baum 2015). From the subject point of view, it can be seen that climate change will have several adverse environmental, social and economic impact.
Climate change in Brisbane, Queensland region
Brisbane is a town located in Queensland region, North East Australia. The region is composed of varying landscape consisting of islands, sandy beaches, flat rivers and rich agricultural lands. It is densely populated, with a higher number of population concentrated in urban areas. Human population and its associated human activities closely interact with the environment and the climate around and has resulted in the formation of region’s microclimate. Climate is an important subject since it is directly related to natural resources beneficial to human and their activities as well as to animal and plant life. With the aim of supporting Australian natural resource management sector, eight natural resource management clusters, which are basically climatic regions, have developed by researchers (Marsh, et al. 2016). These clusters include central slopes, East coast, Monsoonal North, Murray basin, Rangelands, southern slopes, wet tropics and southern and south western Flatlands. Queensland region borders East Coast cluster to the East and Central slopes cluster to the west. The climate of Brisbane is moderated by climatic conditions such that at some points it is characterized with an intermediate micro climate which is as a result of the proximity of these two clusters (Hobday, et al, 2015).
Due to climate change in Australia, and any other part of the world, recent studies have shown that Brisbane will undergo a process of gradual environmental changes that will alter the present look of the region. As a result of these changes, the social life of people such as migrations and refugee movements will be affected. Water supplies, food supplies, health and human settlement are some of the important things that are going to be directly and adversely affected. Elements of weather such as precipitation, humidity, wind, and temperature are the main items that determine climatic patterns of a region (Matthews 2012). These elements and how they are expected to change Brisbane are discussed in this report. Also, the effect of climate change to the sea level is an important concern.
From the past trends, precipitation changes are not very significant in Brisbane. Annual rainfall did not show any notable trend between 1910 and 2013 in this region. Rainfall tends to be constantly predictable with very slight variation from the mean annual fall (Dodds, et al, 2016). Variability in rainfall patterns, amount and duration are strongly influenced by El Nino southern oscillations. It is projected that natural climate variability is strongly likely to remain the major driver for precipitation change. Due to changes in physical processes that cause precipitation, it is projected there will be increase in extreme rainfall periods and increase in extreme dry spell by 2100 (Zeppel 2012).
The mean temperature of this region is presently calculated to be about 20 degree Celsius. Past temperature trends have indicated that average temperatures have significantly increased in the past century with rates of warming getting higher since 1960. Between 1910 and 2013 mean temperature increased by 1.0 degrees Celsius (Soliman, et al, 2016). Daily minimum and daily maximum temperatures have been on the rise in recent couple of years. By 2030, average temperatures are projected to rise by between 0.4 to 1.3 degrees Celsius above what was recorded between 1986 and 2005. This rate of increase is expected to rise even higher by 2100, projected to be between 2.5 to 4.7 degrees Celsius in the case of high emission scenario (RCP8.5) and 1.2 to 2.6 degrees Celsius in the case of intermediate scenario (RCP4.5). It is expected that by 2050, rise in temperature will be about average mean of those between 2030 and 2100.
A graph showing mean temperature variations in Queensland
Change in sea level as a result of the change in precipitation patterns, evapotranspiration, melting of ice bergs is imminent. Between 1966 and 2009, an average rate of change in sea level was about 1.4mm per year. It is projected that by 2030, change in sea level at the coastline will be between 0.08m and 0.18m above 1986-2005 level. By 2090, the sea level is expected to rise by between 0.3m to 0.5m in the case of intermediate emission scenario (RCP4.5) and 0.44m to 0.87m in the case of high emission scenario. By 2050, projections from expected change in sea level between 2030 and 2090 suggest that change in sea level will obviously be above level rise by 2030 but below level rise by 2090 (Lemckert et al .2013).
Change in relative humidity is expected to remain relatively low in the next few decades but will decrease towards the end of the century. As a result of continued warming, evapotranspiration is projected to increase. This is likely to contribute to change in relative humidity (Lee, et al 2015).
A map showing average annual humidity in different parts of Australia
The Wind is caused by a difference in air pressures in different regions. This difference is caused by variations in warming and heating. Therefore, wind patterns are closely related to temperature variations and hence seasons. In Brisbane, records show that there were changes in wind patterns mostly in winter between 1933 and 1937 and thereafter. El Nino southern oscillations are responsible for climate moderation in this region (Trewin et al. 2017).
Social impact of climate change
The projected change in climate will have a great deal of impact on communities living in Brisbane and Queensland region in general. Water supplies are likely to be affected given the changes in precipitation and change in sea level. Natural sources of water such as rivers and springs will experience major changes in volume and purity (Smith et al. 2015). Due to air pollution, flooding and soil erosion, natural water sources will be contaminated and this would call for an urgent need to come up with alternative sources of water or better water treatment methods. Food supplies and agriculture are directly related. Climate change will cause agricultural production to go down (Roggema, 2014). This decrease in agricultural production will be as a result of soil erosion, flooding, infiltration of nutrients, change in rainfall patterns and temperature, air pollution, inversion of dangerous species, pest and diseases etc. Increase in refugees and migration of indigenous communities will occur (Suckling et al. 2016). Environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity will fuel this migration, as people leave unbearable harsh conditions. The rise in sea level poses a great threat to island life and communities living there. Increase chances of tidal waves intensity, tsunami, hurricanes and heat waves are perceived to cause human migration from the coastal region. The decrease in agricultural production and rise of communicable diseases emanating from resulting condition of climate change are perceived to further fuel migration (Sanderson, et al 2016).
Adaptations taken to mitigate the impacts
In response to change in climate risks, adaptation plans developed should seek to help the local authority in collaboration with all stakeholders to combat the harshness of negative effects of climate change (Leon, et al 2015). These apparent adaptations should be taken into consideration:
- Impacting knowledge to empower best practices in response to climate risk. This would involve engaging local communities into forums that support climate change risk management.
- Consideration of climate change risks when making policies, regulations, and procedures. An example would be to policies regarding insurance of assets.
- Partnership of community with local government and other stakeholders in formation of decision councils (Jenkins, et al, 2015).
- Formation of sector adaptation plans e.g. agriculture adaptation plan, infrastructure sector adaptation plan, and environment sector adaptation plan.
Climate change is an important topic that needs to be addressed more constantly to secure sustainability not only now but also in the future. Although the changes happen gradually and sometimes not easily noticed, the long term results might be catastrophic. Rising sea levels pose risk to life and property adjacent to the coastline; pollution of waters destroy marine species and cause environmental degradation; increased temperatures and flooding cause communicable infections and displacements. Such displacements will cause massive movement of people to refugee camp and inversion of dangerous species to human habitats. Agricultural production will diminish as a result of poor quality produce.
Adaptation plans need to be put in place to minimize effects of climate change where possible. Measures need to be put in place to provide long-term ways of dealing with risks of climate change. Risk management standards need to be improved to enhance sustainability in the wake of climate change. Companies, institutions and local government authorities should be expected to partner in creating councils that encourage adoption of new techniques that help reduce emissions that cause global warming. Local authorities in Brisbane should ensure that general population stay updated about changes in climate and associated risks in heath, food, tourism, insurances and sectors such as industry and agriculture.
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