Such work has been at the heart of the Climate Futures Programme at the University of Tasmania, which can plot regional projections for temperature, rainfall, humidity, winds and other meteorological data on a 10 km to 10 km basis every three hours out to 2100. In the past its work has been used to understand the future of Australia’s wine industry—where to plant what grapes—and of its ski industry under conditions of diminishing snow. The Tasmanian Government is using the Programme’s studies to prepare for emerging hazards such as bushfires and coastal erosion, as is the Hobart City Council to plan the mix for road surfacing in the face of hotter weather conditions.
The director of the Programme, Dr Rebecca Harris, is becoming increasingly concerned about irreversible changes in ecosystems that she and her colleagues are detecting. In a recent paper in Nature Climate Change, they documented six case studies where ecosystems have already collapsed as a result of climate change, including the kelp forests off Tasmania’s east coast and the mangrove ecosystems of northern Australia.