3 Apr 2013

Australia's climate has changed for good, say scientists

11:01 am on 3 April 2013

Australia's top climate scientists and science bodies have for the first time endorsed a major report that says the country's climate has in some cases shifted permanently.

Last summer, 123 weather records were broken in 90 days.

As well as heat waves and unprecedented temperatures, there was heavy rainfall and major flooding.

The Climate Commission said it was not a one-off and Australia has a future of weather records yet to be broken.

The peer-reviewed assessment noted that there was strong consensus around a central finding that in some cases the weather has changed for good.

While it says the number of tropical cyclones will not increase, the influence of climate change means they will become more intense.

One-in-100-year flooding events are already becoming more common, and sea levels have risen 20 centimetres since 1880.

Report author Professor Will Steffen said a pattern was emerging in which the south-west and the south-east of Australia have become drier.

"That tells us for the future that we would expect to see dry conditions more often, more droughts in the future and very importantly we don't expect to see the previous pre-climate-change weather conditions come back.

He said some changes in patterns will lock in probably for centuries.