What it is, and why it is important (according to the Department of Environment):
Our climate is changing, largely due to the observed increases in human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), agriculture and land clearing. Changes over the 20th century include increases in global average air and ocean temperature, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global sea levels. The extra heat in the climate system has other impacts such as affecting atmospheric and ocean circulation, which influences rainfall and wind patterns.
Another serious impact of the increasing concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is ocean acidification. Around a quarter of the carbon dioxide produced by humans is absorbed by the oceans. As the carbon dioxide dissolves in sea water it forms a weak carbonic acid, making the ocean more acidic. There are early indications that some marine organisms are already being affected by ocean acidification.
The global average air temperature has increased by around 0.85 degrees Celsius since 1880.[i] The observed increase in temperatures has occurred across the globe, with rising temperatures recorded on all continents and in the oceans. World Meteorological Organization(link is external) records show that the decade of 2001-10 was the world’s warmest decade on record, and that the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s which in turn were warmer than the 1980s. In Australia, average air temperatures have increased by around 0.9 degrees Celsius since 1910, with greatest rate of increase occurring since 1950.[ii]
Scientists agree that the worst effects of climate change can largely be avoided if carbon dioxide emissions are reduced to an acceptable level.
Learn the latest climate change science from one of the most widely respected Australian research bodies, the CSIRO.
The Garnaut Climate Change Review was commissioned by Australia’s Commonwealth, state and territory governments to examine the impacts, challenges and opportunities of climate change for Australia.
Bureau of Meteorology
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology also has some excellent data and information on climate change research that you can find here.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 as a scientific body to provide governments with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. Read the latest summarising report here and their latest special report on Climate Change and Land.
Climate Change Authority
The Climate Change Authority provides independent, expert advice on climate change policy in Australia.