Regional impacts of climate change
Regional projections and impacts - NSW Climate Impact Profile
The NSW Climate Impact Profile is the first integrated assessment of the biophysical changes projected for the state as a result of climate change. It outlines some of the risks that NSW faces to help decision-makers develop their planning and response strategies.
NSW is expected to become hotter (1-3°C), with the greatest increases in maximum temperatures expected to occur in the north and west of the state. North-eastern NSW is likely to experience a slight increase in summer rainfall (0-10%) while in the south-western regions there is likely to be a significant decline in winter rainfall (20-50%). Many parts of the state will experience a shift from winter-dominated to summer-dominated rainfall. The higher temperatures are likely to result in higher evaporation across much of the state offsetting most of the expected increases in summer rainfall. In northern NSW these changes to rainfall and evaporation appear to be within recorded levels of variability. However, the drying of the autumn, winter and spring seasons in the south is expected to fall outside the natural climate variability.
For each of the NSW State Plan regions and for NSW overall, the report provides details of the:
- likely changes in climate (temperature, rainfall and evaporation) by 2050
- physical consequences of these climate changes (rise in sea level and changes in run-off, flooding behaviour and fire regimes), and
- subsequent impacts of projected climate change and associated changes in physical processes on:
- lands (soils and soil processes)
- settlements (storm and flood damage), and
- ecosystems (biological communities, individual species and ecological processes).
This report assesses impacts on the biophysical environment and coastal and flooding hazards and establishes a baseline of information. Further work is being undertaken by the NSW Government on the implications of these changes. As climate data and modelling improve, more detailed research will be needed to better understand how NSW may be affected by climate change and how we can best respond to these changes.
The full NSW Climate Impact Profile is available (10171climateimpactprof.pdf, 4.71 MB). Individual chapters can also be downloaded.
The three technical reports that underpin the information presented in the NSW Climate Impact Profile are available.
For details on the scientific evidence of climate changes that are already occurring in NSW, visit the observed changes in NSW climate 2010 webpage.
Impacts of climate change on natural hazards
Climate change is likely to alter the frequency, intensity and distribution of significant fire and weather-related natural hazards such as storms, flooding and heatwaves. The Impacts of Climate Change on Natural Hazards Profiles have been developed to inform decision makers about:
the current exposure of each region to eight natural hazards (fire, wind, lightning, hail, flash flooding, riverine flooding, heatwaves, and coastal erosion and inundation where regionally applicable); and
projections of future changes to these natural hazards due to climate change.
Building a better understanding of the impacts in NSW
Uncertainty remains about the regional impacts and implications of climate change in NSW. Much finer scale information is needed to better understand the severity and extent of future impacts. OEH is working collaboratively with leading experts to address the need for fine-scale regional and local climate change projections in NSW.
East Coast 'lows' research
In 2010 the NSW Government invested $750,000 into a three year research program to understand changing weather patterns along the eastern seaboard. This research will help the community understand existing coastal weather systems, how they may impact coastal populations, how they have varied over the last 1000 years and how they may be affected by climate change.
Regional communities and climate change
OEH is working on a cross-Government project to assess the vulnerability of communities in NSW to climate change. The first project examined the potential climate change impacts on: human health, human settlements, water, agriculture, tourism, major infrastructure, natural landscapes and emergency services in the South East of NSW, which includes the Snowy Mountains, the Southern Tablelands and the South Coast
The first report aims to provide a sound basis for local climate change adaptation planning. Future IRVAs will focus on the Riverina Murray and North Coast regions.
The OEH Guide to carrying out an IRVA is available here.
Page last updated: 16 January 2013