Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Climate change will force Australian farmers to adapt

Sarah Clarke in ABC News: Australia's farmers will need to adapt to cope with a potentially hotter and drier continent as the effects of climate change take hold, scientists say. As the UN's chief science body meets in Hobart today to update the latest climate modelling, the CSIRO says forecasts show Australia will have to cope with less rainfall, longer dry periods and crops struggling to grow in changing conditions.

CSIRO climate applications scientist Steve Crimp says the nation's agricultural sector will likely feel the heat of a hotter climate. "Certainly across most of southern Australia, the projections of the future are for warmer and drier conditions, so when we experience warm and dry conditions, growing those crops, canola, wheat, barley etc will be more challenging in the future," he said.

A CSIRO report warns climate change will threaten Australia's farming productivity and says grazing livestock, particularly cattle, will be stressed as a result and less likely to breed. Central Australia is predicted to experience the greatest warming.

Modelling shows irrigated cropping may also be challenged, especially in the south east where water is drawn from upstream in the Murray-Darling Basin. The CSIRO forecasts all cropping could be hit by less rainfall....

Drought in the Wheatlands, Western Australia, shot by Phillip Capper, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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