Links between native forest and climate in Australia

Deo, Ravinesh C. (2011) Links between native forest and climate in Australia. Weather, 66 (3). pp. 64-69. ISSN 0043-1656

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Abstract

Human activities have modified our natural environment for thousands of years. In Australia, this influence accelerated from 1788 when the influx of European population led to an extensive modification of natural (native) vegetation for improved cropping, grazing pastures, and expanding human settlements. Like the tropical Sahel, Australian landscape is extremely fragile and responds rapidly to low amplitude radiative perturbations. Australia has a naturally variable climate which is strongly influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The ENSO phenomenon has a pronounced impact on surface temperature and regional rainfall patterns. However, the effect of land-cover change (LCC) on Australian climate has been a secondary consideration in climate change studies despite the clearance of over 1.02 million km2 (or ~13%) of the continent. The regional hotspots of land clearing are southeast Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, cleared 1800 to mid-1900s), southwest Western Australia (cleared 1920–1980s) and more recently inland Queensland. This essay attempts to synthesise the research from previous studies that investigated the impact of LCC on Australia’s regional climate. It is reported that the loss of native vegetation has contributed to significant increases in mean surface temperature and decreases in cumulative regional rainfall. As a consequence, there was an increase in the number of dry and hot days, a decrease in daily rainfall intensity, and an increase in the duration of droughts in southeast Australia.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publsiher.
Depositing User: Dr Ravinesh C Deo
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Maths and Computing
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2011 01:49
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2014 21:36
Uncontrolled Keywords: deforestation; land-cover change; climate extremes; droughts; Australia
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040104 Climate Change Processes
06 Biological Sciences > 0699 Other Biological Sciences > 069902 Global Change Biology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts)
Identification Number or DOI: doi: 10.1002/wea.659
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/18483

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