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Climate Change – Workshop

Facilitator: Dr Peter Whetton (CSIRO)

Key Discussion Points:

  • Limits of what’s possible with this data
  • Climate prediction time scales – annual v decadal v longer
  • For climate change info to be useful then longer-term scenarios needed (longer term risk management)
    - crop types, engaging family succession
  • Different messages for different industries
  • - trends rather than annual decisions
  • Long time perspective required – more common in some industries and at some times
  • Development of different thresholds
  • Industry bodies and regional planners could utilise this information – more useful for regional, industry, state
  • Who should give advice about CC. Better to come from Government
  • Summary sheets updated by CSIRO about every 3 years to communicate climate change story


  • How do you most utilise climate change data with our climates?
  • Risk management consequences more useful possilbly on a regional level rather than individual farmer level
  • Ag may not have the climate to grow historically “local” crops
  • Places like Tatura exist because it has water – what will happen if water reduces?
  • demand for water from cities will increase
  • What about water efficiencies improving?
  • The drought this year is reinforcing how important water use efficiency is
  • How we are going to manage the risk will mean engaging people in solutions
  • Adaptation – impacts on systems but then true impacts is the adaptation of that
  • Last 5 years even though drier, productivity hasn’t reduced and skills have improved in water use efficiency
  • need to learn how to better forecast climate
  • precision Ag and management practices developing all the time that improve efficiency
  • given that we don’t know how emissions will be controlled & do not know the “when & how much” so how do we plan? This info more significant for longer term planning decisions ie. Crop types, water requirements
  • climate change story useful in extension area by using it as a another argument for the need to save water ie. The argument getting stronger all the time – do some scaremongering to create scenarios to create crisis before it arises!
  • how good are we at predicting? Most of the uncertainty is encompassed within the bands on the charts presented
  • any general trend has the factor of natural variability fluctuations that can be quite large over trends as a result of increased gas emissions
  • wet decades and dry decade predictions cannot be predicted
  • depends on times of years & where in Australia you are ..there can be some prediction of 2-3 seasons ahead – El N??
  • Look at the state of EN in pacific and reflect back to similar past scenarios to make predictions
  • Indian ocean temperatures and southern Australia rainfall could have an affect but unsure if independent to EN
  • Likely to be a big impact on breeding of varieties that take into consideration new climate conditions
  • Can’t just look at the crop but the ag package
  • Maybe able to make region wide planning decisions more so than individual farmer making decisions based on this data
  • Families making decisions rather than farmers making decisions ..leaving opportunities for their generations, the longer term consequences
  • Possibly paradigm shifts needed to deal with other ways of making longer term sustainable decisions
  • Managing farms on regional basis rather than farm-gate basis - regional basis predictions
  • How fine a resolution can you get down to with acceptable accuracy ie. Can run climate models at more finer resolutions – needs more investment – not sure if finer scale material is as useful ie. Not as accurate
  • there will come a time when information will be more reliable to understand the natural world
  • most EN events have a life span of 12 months – that may be followed by mildly dry event – unlikely you get 2 very dry seasons in succession
  • critical thresholds – ie. What is the risk of the critical thresholds? Then build a response to that future scenario
  • can speak with same confidence on seasonal changes as annual climate changes
  • can’t usefully provide 10 yr predictions
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