PROJECT 2.2: Enhancing Australia’s capacity to manage climate variability and climate extremes in a changing climate
This project ran from 1 July 2016 until 30 June 2019
Climate extremes such as heatwaves, floods and droughts have huge impacts on Australia’s communities and their natural and economic resources. These events are influenced by large-scale climate features, such as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, and by changes in the climate due to human activities. Explaining the drivers of past extremes, variability and trends is crucial in providing confident projections of future climate changes and frequency of extreme events.
We’ve analysed past climate variability and extremes to enhance our understanding of the underpinning climate drivers. Our focus was on climate variability driven from the oceans (including El Niño, La Niña and the Indian Ocean Dipole), and longer timescale extremes such as extended heatwaves, floods and droughts. We used climate models to examine how these factors change as the global climate changes.
This analysis has provided greater clarity on what causes extreme events. It has helped to identify trends and variations in large-scale climate features and extreme events, and has shed light on the extent to which these extreme events are influenced by human activities. This information can now be integrated into Australia’s climate change projections, enabling us to better plan for and respond to drought, heatwaves and floods.
Outcomes from this project will be used in the current Hub Project 5.2 – Understanding climate variability and change – past, present and future.
Key project achievements include:
- Significantly increased understanding of many aspects of climate variability and change
- Disentangling the extent to which humans have contributed to the severity of recent extreme events, including contributions on this topic to the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sixth assessment report
- Increasingly seen as trusted advisers on topics such as tropical variability, drought and extremes attribution, internationally and within Australia
For more information
Dr Pandora Hope, Bureau of Meteorology
Watch the Project 2.2 summary video
Publications and papers
- Abellán E, McGregor S, England M, Santoso A. 2017. Distinctive role of ocean advection anomalies in the development of the extreme 2015-16 El Nino. Climate Dynamics, 1-18, doi: 10.1007/s00382-017-4007-0 | Full paper
- Bordbar MH, England MH, Sen Gupta A, Santoso A, Taschetto AS, Martin T, Park W, Latif M. 2019. Uncertainty in near-term global surface warming linked to tropical Pacific climate variability. Nature Communications, 10, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09761-2 | Full paper
- Cai WJ, Wang GJ, Dewitte B, Wu L, Santoso A, Takahashi K, Yang Y, Carreric A, McPhaden MJ, 2018. Increased variability of eastern Pacific El Nino under greenhouse warming, Nature, 564, 201-206, doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0776-9 | Abstract
- Cai WJ, Wang GJ, Gan B, Wu L, Santoso A, Lin X, Chen Z, Jia F, Yamagata T. 2018. Stabilised frequency of extreme positive Indian Ocean Dipole under 1.5 degrees C warming. Nature Communications, 9, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03789-6 | Full paper
- Cai WJ, Wang GJ, Santoso A, Lin XP, Wu LX. 2017. Definition of Extreme El Nino and Its Impact on Projected Increase in Extreme El Nino Frequency. Geophysical Research Letters 44, 11184-11190, doi: 10.1002/2017gl075635 | Full paper
- Cai WJ, Wu L, Lengaigne M, Li T, McGregor S, Kun JS, Stuecker MF, Santoso A, Li X, Ham YG, Chikamoro Y, Ng B, McPhaden MJ, Du Y, Dommenget D, Jia F, Kajtar JB, Keenlyside N, Lin X, Luo JJ, Martin-Rey M, Ruprich-Robert Y, Wang GJ, Xie SP, Yang Y, Kang SM, Choi JY, Gan B, Kim GI, Kim CE, KiM SY, Kim, JH, Chang P. 2019. Pantropical climate interactions, Science, 363(6430), doi: 10.1126/science.aav4236 | Full paper
- Chung C, Power SB. 2017. The non-linear impact of El Niño, La Niña and the Southern Oscillation on seasonal and regional Australian precipitation. Journal of Southern Hemisphere Earth Systems Science, 67(1), 25–45, doi:10.22499/3.6701.003 | Full paper
- Chung C and Power S. 2017. Multi-year variability in the Tasman sea and impacts on Southern Hemisphere climate in CMIP5 models. Journal of Climate, doi:10.1175/jcli-d-16-0862.1 | Full paper
- Colman R, Power SB. 2018. What can decadal variability tell us about climate feedbacks and sensitivity? Climate Dynamics, 51(9-10), 3815-3828, doi: 10.1007/s00382-018-4113-7 | Pre-print. An edited version of this paper was published by Springer Berlin Heidelberg. Copyright 2018 Springer Berlin Heidelberg | Abstract
- Dowdy AJ, Pepler A, Di Luca A, Cavicchia L, Mills, G, Evans JP, Louis S, McInnes KL, Walsh K. 2019. Review of Australian east coast low pressure systems and associated extremes, Climate Dynamics, 1-24, doi: 10.1007/s00382-019-04836-8 | Abstract
- Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub. 2019. What role does climate change play in extreme events? Available from the ESCC Hub website | Full Factsheet
- Freund MB, Henley BJ, Karoly DJ, McGregor HV, Abram NJ, Dietmar D. 2019. Higher frequency of Central Pacific El Niño events in recent decades relative to past centuries, Nature Geoscience, doi: 10.1038/s41561-019-0353-3 | Abstract
- Grose MR, Black M, Risbey JS, Uhe P, Hope PK, Haustein K, Mitchell D. 2017. Severe frosts in Western Australia in September 2016. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/bams-D-17-0088.1 | Full paper
- Harris T, Hope P, Oliver E, Smalley R, Arblaster J, Holbrook N, Duke N, Pearce K, Braganza K, Bindoff N. 2017. Climate drivers of the 2015 Gulf of Carpentaria mangrove dieback. Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub Report No. 2, NESP Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub, Australia. Full report | Summary
- Herold N, Santoso A. 2017. Indian Ocean warming during peak El Nino cools surrounding land masses. Climate Dynamics, 1-16, doi:10.1007/s00382-017-4001-6 | Full paper
- Hope P, Black MT, Lim E-P, Dowdy A, Wang, Pepler A and Fawcett RJB. 2019. On determining the impact of increasing atmospheric CO2 on the record fire weather in eastern Australia in February 2017, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0135.1 | Full paper
- Hope P, Lim E-P, Hendon H, Wang G. 2017. The effects of increasing CO2 on the extreme September 2016 rainfall across South Eastern Australia. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/bams-D-17-0094.1 | Full paper
- Hope P, Wang G, Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Arblaster JM. 2016. What caused the record-breaking heat across Australia in October 2015? Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 97(12), S122–S126, doi:10.1175/bams-d-16-0141.1 | Full paper
- Jia F, Cai WJ, Gan BL, Wang GJ, Kucharski F, Chang P, Keenlyside, 2019. Weakening Atlantic Niño–Pacific connection under greenhouse warming, Science Advances, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aax4111 | Full paper
- Karoly D, Black M, Grose M, King A. 2016. The roles of climate change and El Niño in the record low rainfall in October 2015 in Tasmania, Australia. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 97(12), S127–S130, doi:10.1175/bams-d-16-0139.1 | Full paper
- Ng B, Cai WJ, 2016. Present-day zonal wind influences projected Indian Ocean Dipole skewness, Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 21, 11392-11399, doi: 10.1002/2016GL071208 | Full text
- Pepler AS, Dowdy AJ, Hope P. 2018. A global climatology of surface anticyclones, their variability, associated drivers and long-term trends, Climate Dynamics, doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4451-5 | Abstract
- Pepler AS, & Hope P. 2018. Orography Drives the Semistationary West Australian Summer Trough, Geophysical Research Letters, doi.org/10.1029/2018GL079312 | Full paper
- Perkins-Kirkpatrick SE, King AD, Cougnon EA, Grose MR, Oliver ECJ, Holbrook NJ, Lewis SC, Pourasghar F. 2018. The role of natural variability and anthropogenic climate change in the 2017/18 Tasman Sea marine heatwave. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0116.1 | Full paper
- Power SB, Delage FPD, Chung CTY, Ye H and Murphy BF. 2017. Humans have already increased the risk of major disruptions to Pacific rainfall. Nature Communications, 8, 14368, doi:10.1038/ncomms14368 | Full paper
- Power SB, Delage FPD, Wang GM, Smith I, Kociuba G. 2017. Apparent limitations in the ability of CMIP5 climate models to simulate recent multi-decadal change in surface temperature: implications for global temperature projections. Climate Dynamics, 49, 53-69, doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3326-x | Full paper
- Power SB and Delage FPD. 2018a. El Niño–Southern Oscillation and Associated Climatic Conditions around the World during the Latter Half of the Twenty-First Century. Journal of Climate. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-18-0138.1 | Full paper
- Power SB, Delage FPD. 2019. Setting and smashing extreme temperature records over the coming century. Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0498-5 | Full paper
- Santoso A, Hendon H, Watkins A, Power S, Dommenget D, England M, Frankcombe L, Holbrook N, Holmes R, Hope, P Lim, E-P, Luo J-J, McGregor S, Neske S, Nguyen H, Pepler A, Rashid H, Sen Gupta A, Taschetto AS, Wang G, Abellán E, Sullivan A, Huguenin M, Gamble F, Delage F. 2018. Dynamics and predictability of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation: An Australian perspective on progress and challenges. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, doi: 10.1175/bams-d-18-0057.1 | Full paper
- Santoso A, McPhaden MJ, Cai W. 2017. The Defining Characteristics of ENSO Extremes and the Strong 2015/2016 El Niño. Reviews of Geophysics, 55(4), 1079-1129, doi:10.1002/2017rg000560 | Full paper
- Timmermann A, An S, Kug J, Jin F, Cai W, Capotondi A, Cobb K, Lengaigne M, McPhaden MJ, Stuecker MF, Stein K, Wittenberg AT, Yun K, Bayr T, Chen H, Chikamoto Y, Dewitte B, Dommenget D, Grothe P, Guilyardi E, Ham Y, Hayashi M, Ineson S, Kang D, Kim S, Kim W, Lee J, Li T, Luo J, McGregor S, Planton Y, Power SB, Rashid H, Ren H, Santoso A, Takahashi K, Todd A, Wang GM, Wang GJ, Xie R, Yang H, Yeh S, Yoon J, Zeller E, Zhang X. 2018. El Niño–Southern Oscillation complexity. Nature, 559, 535-545, doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0252-6 | Pre-print version. An edited version of this paper was published by Springer Nature Publishing AG. Copyright 2018 Springer Nature Publishing AG | Abstract
- Wang G, Cai W, Santoso A. 2017. Assessing the impact of model biases on projected increase in frequency of extrme positive Indian Ocean Dipole events, Journal of Climate, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0509.1 | Full paper
- Wang G, Cai W, Gan B, Wu L, Santoso A, Lin X, Chen Z, McPhaden MJ. 2017. Continued increase of extreme El Niño frequency long after 1.5°C warming stabilisation. Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate3351 | Full paper
- Wang G, Hendon H, Arblaster J, Lim E, Abhik S and van Rensch P. 2019. Compounding Tropical and Stratospheric Forcing of the Record Low Antarctic Sea-Ice in 2016. Nature Communications, 10, doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07689-7 | Full paper
- Wang G, Hope P, Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Arblaster JM. 2016. Three methods for the attribution of extreme weather and climate events. Bureau Research Report No. 018 | Full report
This project is contributing to meeting the following climate challenges:
Modelling improvements developed in this project will enhance the quality of climate projections that are available to water managers and planners.
Agricultural and environmental managers will be able to use projections developed from work in this project to make more effective management decisions.
Research undertaken in this project will allow for better simulation of extreme events in climate projections, making them a more useful tool for governments and other agencies that are responsible for preparing for and managing the response to natural disasters.