Climate change impacts in NSW

The natural, social, and economic systems of New South Wales are all likely to be affected by the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

NSW is expected to become hotter, with the greatest increases in temperature expected to occur in the north and west of the state. North-eastern NSW is likely to experience a slight increase in summer rainfall, while in the south-western regions there is likely to be a decline in winter rainfall. Many parts of the state will experience a shift from winter-dominated to summer-dominated rainfall.

The type, frequency and intensity of natural hazards are expected to change as the Earth's climate changes, and these changes could occur even with relatively small mean climate changes. Changes in some types of natural hazards have already been observed, for example, increases in the frequency and intensity of heat waves and heavy precipitation events (IPCC, 2007). These changes will have significant implications for the environment, economy and communities.

Sea levels are expected to rise, increasing coastal erosion and flooding that will affect our beaches and estuaries. Our inland waterways and the industries that depend on water, already under stress, will be impacted by changed rainfall patterns and increased evaporation, particularly in the south-west of the state. Higher temperatures, extreme weather events, fire and erosion could change entire ecosystems, accelerate species loss, alter farming practices and affect human settlements and health.

Different parts of NSW will experience different changes in climate and will require different responses to these changes. Not all of these changes will be negative - for example, changes in climate could create new agricultural opportunities. It is important to understand the type and extent of likely impacts so that NSW is able to respond and take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.

Page last updated: 18 September 2012