Climate change has increased the severity of drought in Australia’s Murray Darling Basin

 

drought36month1019

Parts of Australia’s Murray Darling Basin have had their driest 36 months on record, to 31 October 2019.  There has been some rain at the start of November 2019, so across the whole basin it may not be the driest three consecutive calendar years on record.

The record was set in the years 1965 to 1967.

There is, however, a factor which makes the current drought far worse than the 1965 to 1967 drought.  Summer temperatures are now far hotter in the Basin.  As shown in the chart below, mean summer temperatures during the 1965 to 1967 drought were less than one degree C hotter than the 1961 to 1990 average.  The last three summers have had mean summer temperatures more that 2 degrees C hotter and the 2018-19 summer was more than three degrees hotter!

tmean.mdb.1202.52151

The current drought is much more severe than the 1965 to 1967 drought due to climate change increasing evaporation.

The Murray Darling Basin is often referred to as Australia’s food bowl and accordingly food production is down which is costly to the economy and disastrous for the communities affected.  The federal government is pouring in billions of dollars in assistance, while still proclaiming at the United Nations that Australia is pulling our weight on actions to limit climate change.

Australia must do much more and must encourage other countries, especially the USA, to do likewise, because Australia is experiencing the costly effects of climate change.

In a future post I’ll write about what Australia should, and can, do to limit rising temperature and stimulate more rainfall.

Charlie Nelson