The new normal: hottest January on record; record high and low rainfalls; Queensland farmers backs to the wall

For those who like to think this is just another typical Australian summer, think again:

Australia’s year of extreme weather has collected a fresh record with January posting the hottest average temperatures for the month on record. 

With just a day’s data to be collected, the average of maximum and minimum temperatures for the month was 29.7 degrees. That tally was 1.79 degrees above the long-term average.

Australia is seeing extremes in rainfall: parts of the country are experiencing extremes well above the average, other parts are seeing below average rainfall:

latest

As climate scientists have been saying for years, rainfall patterns will change. Climate change does not mean the end of rain – rain will fall with more severity but more infrequently, while its distribution will change:

Average precipitation in southwest and southeast Australia is projected to decline during this time period, while regions such as the northwest may experience increases in rainfall.

Agriculture is going to have to adapt, and that transition will cause pain to farmers and farming communities.

Put bluntly, we will abandon some food-producing regions and shift production elsewhere.

What is happening in Queensland in the Bundaberg valley is a taste of things to come: for the second year in a row farms have been devastated:

The agricultural industry now believes some farmers will be without an income for at least six months and orchardists for much longer, while it may prove to be the last straw for many dairy farmers who were already battling depleted incomes because of the milk price war. 

Losses to the sector are likely to be more than $100 million with widespread damage to farm infrastructure, but the figure changes daily because of poor communication in many of the flood-affected areas. 

Industry leaders said it was too early to say which foods were likely to be scarce until a better assessment was made but the damage to crops in the high-producing foodbowls of Boonah, Kalbar, the Lockyer Valley, Mundubbera, Gayndah and Bundaberg point to widespread impacts.

Much of the infrastructure rebuilt after last year’s floods has been washed away barely months after being rebuilt. Many farmers will simply give up. Sadly, this is the emerging pattern.

As temperatures rise and extreme events come with increased frequency, agriculture in some parts of Australia will simply become untenable.

Each year the cost of rebuilding will become more prohibitive. Insurance premiums will rise. Government hand outs will cease. Land will be abandoned. Towns will lose their populations, as people drift to the cities or move to other parts of the country.

One could blame inappropriate development and the folly of allowing homes and industry to build in a flood plain. Perhaps.

The devastation Bundaberg and the Lockyer valley are currently experiencing are a harbinger of Queensland’s future.

Conclusion: climate adaptation is now our first priority.

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22 thoughts on “The new normal: hottest January on record; record high and low rainfalls; Queensland farmers backs to the wall

  1. […] 2013/01/31: WtD: The new normal: hottest January on record; record high and low rainfalls; Queenslan… […]

  2. […] 2013/01/31: WtD: The new normal: hottest January on record; record high and low rainfalls; Queenslan… […]

  3. Eric Worrall says:

    while it may prove to be the last straw for many dairy farmers who were already battling depleted incomes because of the milk price war.

    Normally when there is a shortage prices go up.

    • zoot says:

      Normally when there is a shortage prices go up.
      Which benefits only those who have product to sell. Presumably not those who suffered

      damage to crops in the high-producing foodbowls of Boonah, Kalbar, the Lockyer Valley, Mundubbera, Gayndah and Bundaberg

  4. catweazle666 says:

    I thought you might appreciate this fine piece from the amazing Joe Romm.

    Manmade Carbon Pollution Has Already Put Us On Track For 69 Feet Of Sea Level Rise

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/01/1527551/manmade-carbon-pollution-has-already-put-us-on-track-for-69-feet-of-sea-level-rise/

  5. Eric Worrall says:

    Funny, these scientists predicting that there would never be enough rain to fill the dams (hence the need for hideously expensive desalination plants) now predicted the extreme rainfall all along. Those amazing climate scientists – they’re always right, even when they’re wrong.

    BTW interesting funny on WUWT – it appears James Annan has joined the ranks of the “deniers”.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/01/encouraging-admission-of-lower-climate-sensitivity-by-a-hockey-team-scientist/

    Or does an estimated climate sensitivity just below 2c / doubling still count as acceptable science? Perhaps you guys could clarify, explain what the “denier” climate sensitivity cutoff point is, between legitimate estimates of climate sensitivity, and big oil funded climate denial.

    • zoot says:

      Funny, these scientists predicting that there would never be enough rain to fill the dams …

      Citation required.

    • It’s a wonder that anybody cites Watts as a credible source given his tendency to exaggerate, distort or misrepresent what people actually claim.

    • Dr No says:

      “hideously expensive desalination plants”??

      Brisbane’s water supply is back on tap.
      Reserves across the city have returned to normal after silt-laden water clogged the city’s main treatment plant at Mt Crosby this week.
      Drinking water was pumped into the capital from the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.
      Water was also drawn from the Gold Coast’s Tugun Desalination Plant, which was running at 100 per cent capacity.

      http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/2013/02/01/18/02/brisbane-water-back-on-tap

      ha! ha! egg on face!!

      • john byatt says:

        And Newman could not even admit it

        “we are bringing water from the gold coast” was the nearest he got,

        only a few weeks ago they were going to shut it down,

    • crank says:

      The Lizard King returns. You see, my herpetic friend, the disaster is one of climate destabilisation, which is what we plainly are beginning to suffer. Why that is too difficult for you to comprehend or accept is a mystery.

  6. Skeptikal says:

    One could blame inappropriate development and the folly of allowing homes and industry to build in a flood plain. Perhaps.

    Perhaps?.. Are you serious?

    There’s a reason they call it a ‘flood’ plain… I’ll let you in on a little secret, the reason is because it floods!

    It’s flooded before and it will certainly flood again… that’s what a flood plain does. Anyone living in a flood plain can expect to get flooded. Nothing new there!

    As for your ‘new normal’…

    “I love a sunburnt country,
    A land of sweeping plains,
    Of ragged mountain ranges,
    Of drought and flooding rains,….”
    Written by Dorothea MacKellar 1906

    It looks like your ‘new normal’ has been around for over a century. Maybe it’s not so new afterall.

    • Ig says:

      The deniers’ approach to science: if you want evidence, look for it in old poems. As for data, stats, numbers etc., they don’t have that poetic flow and rhyme, so I guess they’ll fill in the blanks with other anecdotal evidence and invent the rest. Nothing new.

    • john byatt says:

      Gympie has just flooded for the fourth time in three years, that is the new normal for gympie

      • crank says:

        Just as there were, allegedly, no atheists in foxholes during WW1, I wonder how many climate destabilisation denialists are left in Gympie?

    • zoot says:

      Of constant drought and annualflooding rains,….”

      FIFY – cause that’s what she really meant, didn’t she.

    • crank says:

      I see that you have the intellectual grasp and the understanding of the subject of…Clive James. I’ll speak no ill of the dying, but really, to rely on a poem and reject the science is not only cretinous, but deeply risible. You are a ludicrous figure.

  7. john byatt says:

    Full story at crikey

    Miners, developers pile in to fund Newman’s LNP campaign

    ANDREW CROOK
    Crikey senior journalist | EMAIL | COMMENT

    AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION, CAMPBELL NEWMAN, LIBERAL NATIONAL PARTY, QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT

    Corporate donors — dominated by resources giants — piled huge amounts of cash into the coffers of the Queensland Liberal-National Party in the lead-up to last year’s state election, official Australian Electoral Commission data released this morning reveals.
    With the writing on the wall for Anna Bligh, major corporates were desperate to hitch their largesse to “Can Do” Campbell Newman’s bandwagon, tipping $1,8 million into the LNP’s accounts.
    The party sucked in a grand total — including public funding — of $17,612.936, dwarfing Queensland Labor’s $11,665,295.
    The Queensland election, on March 24 last year, was held just 13 weeks before the end of the audit period, which stretched across the 2011-12 financial year.

    • crank says:

      In return they get another of the New Wave of extreme Rightwing state regimes, fanatically determined to destroy all environmental law, reverse the environmental gains of the last thirty years, sabotage renewable energy and push as hard as possible for more coal mining and burning. A New Dark Age is falling in the Anglosphere countries, and the nocturnal beasties of hard Right reaction are roaming the land. It will make the next few years, particularly after the elevation of Tony ‘Climate Change is Crap’ Abbott, particularly detestable, but laughable. The ‘March of the Morons’.

  8. john byatt says:

    Sunshine Coast Daily,

    Dear Sir,

    When scientists of the caliber of Associate Professor Shireen Fahey speak out (SCD Jan 30) about the urgent need to plan now for climate change adaptation, the Newman government and especially Andrew Powell would be wise to heed her advice and not maintain their denial of the reality that is unfolding.
    Had Shireen’s warning been printed in the American media, both she and her family would have become the targets of hate mail and death threats. Here on the Sunshine Coast the deniers instead will search her article for something to contort, her scientific backed statement “increasing number of major storm events of escalating intensity” will be contorted by the deniers into a claim of only “more storms” and then a straw man argument presented to rebut that. While it is possible to adapt over the coming decades there are now known limits to human survival that will be exceeded on our current path. We need to support scientists like professor Fahey when they speak out. The truth must not be allowed to be suppressed through intimidation. The facts not allowed to be distorted through contortion.

    Rgds

    • crank says:

      Ever thought that, with the science so firmly settled, and the weather disasters coming thick and fast, around the world, that the powers-that-be cannot really be this stupid and ignorant and must, in fact, be happy to see the ecological catastrophe occur? I admit that here one is faced by the ‘motive’ question, but I suspect that the elites actually imagine that they can somehow survive the calamity, safe in their redoubts, and emerge to rule over a planet cleansed in Malthusian fashion, of its ‘useless eaters’. Otherwise you have to just be satisfied that they are as stupid as they appear.

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