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The challenge

We need to adapt to a changing climate

A wide range of observations shows that the global climate system continues to warm. Data and analysis from CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology show further warming of the atmosphere and oceans in the Australian region, as is happening globally. This change is occurring against the background of high climate variability, but the signal is clear.

Dry dam in drought.

To minimise the costs of climate change in the future, sound scientific knowledge is needed to underpin decision making and solutions.

Extreme weather events have an enormous social and economic cost for Australia. In the last four years, hundreds of lives have been lost as a result of bushfires, heatwaves, floods and cyclones. Insurance claims, infrastructure repair, and lost productivity have cost the economy tens of billions of dollars. To improve preparedness for and recovery from extreme events, Australia needs better predictions of extreme weather, sophisticated advance warning systems and approaches that ensure rapid and low cost recovery.

Our response

Working in partnerships to better prepare for climate change and extreme events

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) have developed a cutting edge capability known as ACCESS, which has dramatically increased the accuracy of Australia's weather forecasts. Our insights into high intensity fire behaviour and technologies to assist in early warning are used by fire and emergency management agencies to reduce the likelihood and impact of catastrophic fires.

We are working closely with urban planners, the property and insurance industries, and local government, to minimise the impacts of inundation in vulnerable coastal areas.

We have also identified more resilient construction materials and designed a range of facilities from housing to major transport infrastructure that are less vulnerable to extreme events.

We are working in partnership with governments, industry, and the community to help Australia better prepare for and respond to extreme events. By mobilising expertise in engineering, design, agriculture, digital technology, marine and atmospheric science, hydrology and social and economic research, we are delivering practical options and solutions. We also play a key role in connecting its partners to world class expertise through national and global relationships with other knowledge intensive organisations.

Examples of our climate adaptation research in action

  • The CSIRO-BoM ACCESS model now delivers a 10-fold improvement in our nation's weather forecasts.
  • Enhanced local government planning and zoning from our research has resulted in an estimated saving of $200 million for coastal communities. Our work on wind design standards for all new housing reduces the risk of damage by 50–80 per cent. In Brisbane, this results in avoided costs in excess of $1 billion.
  • Our Emergency Situation Awareness software is being used by emergency managers in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland; saving lives by providing rapid awareness of incidents and swift recovery from damage.
  • Some benefits of our science do not have a monetary value: the impact of new protective measures for fire trucks was demonstrated in the 2009 Victorian bushfires when 12 fire trucks were engulfed by flames but emerged safely with no loss of life.

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