Date & Time: 
Tuesday 22 May 2018

The UQ Global Change Institute is delighted to welcome Bureau of Meteorology Senior Principal Research Scientist Dr Scott Power to deliver a GCI science seminar on Tuesday, 22 May.

Dr Scott Power, Dip. Ed
BOM Senior Principal Research Scientist & Honorary Professor UQ Global Change Institute

Scott is an author of the Fifth IPCC WGI-III Synthesis Report that informed the landmark Paris Agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

He has published extensively in the international scientific literature on climate variability and climate change in the Pacific. He is the former head of climate research and operational climate monitoring and prediction in the Bureau and the acting head of Australia’s National Climate Centre.

Scott has been involved in International Development in the Pacific for over two decades. He led the development of a project to enhance climate prediction services in numerous Pacific Island countries, and he co-led a program on Pacific climate change science that assisted 14 vulnerable countries in the Pacific and Timor-Leste. He is now working with World Vision and the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service to increase community benefits from early warning services, through the DFAT-sponsored Australian Humanitarian Partnership.

Visit Dr Power's profile page at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.


Pacific climate: past, present and future

Dr Scott Power, Dip. Ed., Bureau of Meteorology and the UQ Global Change Institute

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the earth's atmosphere are higher now than they have been for hundreds of thousands of years. This is longer than homo sapiens have existed. High quality observational records clearly indicate that the Pacific has warmed over the past 60 years, and sophisticated mathematical models of the earth's climate system fail to replicate this warming, unless they are forced with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.  While further warming in the Pacific over coming decades appears inevitable, marked and sustained cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions can greatly reduce future warming and moderate associated risks.

This might, potentially, include the risk that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation's impact on the Pacific will increase. Although this issue had been investigated many times during the past twenty years, there has been very little consensus on future changes in ENSO, apart from an expectation that ENSO will continue to be a dominant source of year-to-year variability. Recent research, however, has revealed that projected changes in some aspects of ENSO-driven variability appear more robust than previously thought. Projections indicate that: precipitation variability in the equatorial Pacific associated with ENSO will intensify and move east; the area of the globe with statistically significant ENSO teleconnections and the frequency with which major disruptions to Pacific rainfall caused by ENSO will increase over the 21st century under RCP8.5. RCP8.5 is a business-as usual scenario in which nations around the world fail to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement. Unfortunately, recent evidence suggests that ENSO's impact on Pacific rainfall will intensify even if global warming is limited to 2 °C.
Despite these recent advances, confidence in projected changes in ENSO is still not high because climate models exhibit biases in their simulation of ENSO and tropical Pacific climate more generally. Hopefully the emerging new generation of climate models will simulate Pacific climate more accurately.

While reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is clearly crucial to limiting risks faced by people and ecosystems in the Pacific, climate change adaptation can also help to moderate some of the risks created or exacerbated by climate change. I will briefly a describe an adaptation project we have with World Vision Australia and the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service to help communities derive greater benefits from Early Warning and Response Systems.

If time, I will also describe other research documenting observed changes in the frequency that severe tropical cyclones make landfall and in both major coastal flood events and associated death tolls, in Queensland and NSW.

Please register to attend as seating capacity will be limited.

Room 275 GCI, L3 (Building 20), The University of Qld, St Lucia
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