Climate change in the region

Climate change is recognised as one of the key drivers of change in South Australia.

The actions of the landscape board are based on the best scientific evidence currently available, which is indicating the following:

  • the region is becoming warmer on average, consistent with South Australia’s overall 0.96°C warming between 1910 and 2005
  • the region is projected to become drier overall, although rainfall projections have a lower level of certainty attached to them than temperature projections
  • heatwaves could become more frequent and more severe, with days over 35C in Adelaide projected to increase from their current average of 20 to 24-29 by 2030 and to 29-57 by 2090 (depending on the emission scenario and the model used)
  • due to a strong projected spring warming and drying, the fireseason is likely to start earlier, thereby narrowing the window for prescribed burning, which helps to reduce fuel loads
  • the number of fire danger days is likely to increase, and fires may become more frequent and harder to control once they start
  • while overall annual rainfall is projected to decrease, rainfall intensity may increase by about 11 per cent on average (albeit from a relatively low baseline)
  • as a result of thermal expansion of the oceans, sea levels have in recent times risen at a rate of approximately 5mm per year in the region; the projected sea level rise is 33–40cm by 2070 and 45–60cm by 2090 (relative to a 1986-2005 baseline)
  • Gulf and ocean waters are warming, and are also becoming more acidic as a result of absorbing higher amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Climate change investigations

In order to better understand the likely impacts of climate change on managing natural resources and to strategically address them, the former natural resources board was involved in the following investigations:

Urban heat mapping. A comparison of three commonly used urban heat mapping methodologies, providing recommendations regarding which methodology may be the most advisable under given circumstances

Climate vulnerability. A climate vulnerability assessment for the following sectors: viticulture, perennial and annual horticulture, annual cropping, extensive livestock and dairy

Biodiversity: A landscape-scale assessment of climate impacts on terrestrial biodiversity and adaptation strategies; further investigations are in train to identify the region’s terrestrial biodiversity adaptation actions at a finer geographical scale

Hills and Coast assessment: A landscape scenario assessment for the Resilient Hills and Coasts region, covering the local government areas of Alexandrina, Victor Harbor, Adelaide Hills, Yankalilla, Mt Barker and Kangaroo Island

Surface water: an assessment of the impact of climate change on the region’s surface water resources.