Predictive tool shows where winter could ‘effectively disappear’

Winter could be a thing of the past for much of Australia without aggressive climate change action, a new predictive tool suggests.

Jan 27, 2023, updated Jan 27, 2023
The snow-covered Australian Alps in Thredbo, NSW. Photo: AAP/Alison Godfrey

The snow-covered Australian Alps in Thredbo, NSW. Photo: AAP/Alison Godfrey

The mobile app draws on temperature records and 2050 climate projections developed by the CSIRO to demonstrate what life could be like in more than 15,000 locations across Australia.

Australians can plug in their postcodes and see how much hotter and longer summers are expected to be, including how many extra 30C-plus days there’ll be.

It shows most communities will lose winter as a recognisable season under a relatively high emissions pathway.

That’s true for all capital cities including Canberra, which is also forecast to endure summers that are 3.3C hotter by 2050 with an extra 52 days above 30C each year.

It’s the same deal in Alpine regions.

In the NSW ski resort town of Thredbo, for example, the loss of a distinct winter is predicted as the average maximum daily temperature climbs by 4.8C, or 48 per cent.

The tool, funded by the Australian Conservation Foundation, was developed independently by Australian National University Associate Professor Geoff Hinchcliffe, using historical temperature data and the CSIRO’s projections.

“It aims to give people a personal and localised appreciation of climate ideas that are typically considered at global scales are can be difficult to comprehend,” he says.

“It’s a form of storytelling, a way to bring climate data into an everyday context and remind people of the urgent need to act.”

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ACF’s climate change program manager Gavan McFadzean hopes it will drive home the need for ambitious climate action by demonstrating what could be at stake at a very local level.

“Winters will effectively disappear in large parts of the country, while more than 2,000 locations are forecast to have more than 30 days with temperatures over 35C.

“Hotter summers mean more deaths from heat stroke, more houses destroyed in bushfires and more koalas and other wildlife dying from thirst and incineration.”

The tool has been released as the federal government finalises a crucial piece of climate policy – the so-called safeguard mechanism.

The mechanism sets limits for greenhouse gas emissions for Australia’s top 215 industrial sites to force refineries, smelters, gas plants and other big emitters to clean up their processes or offset pollution with environmental projects.

“We need a strong safeguard mechanism that rules out new coal and gas and starts to seriously hold big polluters to account. We can’t continue on this path,” McFadzean says.

The climate projections that feed into the tool are based on an emissions scenario used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which deliver a temperature rise of about 4.3C by 2100.

The United Nations says the world is currently on track for up to 2.9C of warming this century, well beyond the Paris climate pact’s primary target of limiting it to 1.5C.

The tool can be found at:


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