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Heatwaves occurring earlier and more often in Australia: climate report

Xinhua, February 8, 2017 Adjust font size:

Australia is experiencing hotter, longer and more frequent heatwaves, a climate change report from the nation's Climate Council revealed on Wednesday.

Data released in the Climate Council's Cranking Up The Intensity: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events report said the world sweltered through its hottest year on record, and Australia was one nation being affected the most.

Will Steffen, climate scientist from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Climate Institute, said the results of the study were "a cause for concern", as the climate was "shifting a bit faster" than originally thought.

According to the report, since 1980, heatwaves were starting up to 17 days earlier in Melbourne, 19 days earlier in Sydney and 12 days earlier in Hobart, while the number of 'heatwaves' days in Perth had increased by 50 percent.

"A lot of these impacts we are seeing occurring now are occurring earlier than we had projected a few years ago," Steffen told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.

"It is a risk for human health, particularly for the most vulnerable, the elderly, very young people, and exposed outdoor workers.

"It is (also) obviously a risk for the agricultural industry, it is a risk for natural ecosystems, (while) we saw an underwater heatwave about a year ago wipe out a large part of the Great Barrier Reef."

Steffen said climate change was also affecting Australia's tropical regions; he said it was likely that cyclones could increase in intensity and "travel further southwards" in the future.

"There will also be an increase in coastal flooding as well as sea levels," he said.

Steffen said the government needed to do more to lower emissions for future generations, including by closing dirty coal-fired energy stations.

"To reach the Paris target which we signed up too, we would need to have a target in 2030 of 40 per cent to 60 per cent emission reduction on 2005 levels," he told the ABC.

"We've only got 26 percent to 28 percent, it is far, far short of what is actually needed according to the science. On present projections we are not even likely to meet that weak target that we have." Endit