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In south-western Australia, water shortages will worsen

While the rest of Australia has had a reprieve from the Millennium Drought, and floods have recently affected many areas along the north eastern Australian coast, the extended dry period that has affected…

Rainfall is dropping, but runoff into dams used for irrigation is dropping even faster. CSIRO

While the rest of Australia has had a reprieve from the Millennium Drought, and floods have recently affected many areas along the north eastern Australian coast, the extended dry period that has affected south-western Australia since about 1975 continues unabated.

The loss of traditional water sources has required the building of seawater desalination plants capable of providing half the drinking water needs of people living in the Perth region.

Traditional water supplies are projected to dry even more by 2030 according to research just published by CSIRO scientists.

Global climate models (GCMs) give variable projections but they usually provide some hope for a wetter future in most regions. However, all 15 GCMs that provide daily information project an even drier 2030 for south-western Australia. On a percentage basis, the runoff into the reservoirs that supply water to Perth and into irrigation dams is projected to reduce by about three times more than the reduction in rainfall.

Even more disturbing, because catchments have dried so much since 1975, a given rainfall amount now generates less runoff. Catchment water yields will only recover if there are decades of rainfall large enough to raise groundwater levels within the deeply weathered profiles. According to the GCMs, this is very unlikely to happen.

Interactions between rivers and aquifers are projected to change. CSIRO

The story for groundwater levels on the coastal Perth Basin, the water source of choice for most people living in the region, is more complex.

The Basin contains aquifers that store large amounts of water to more than a kilometre in depth. Surface sandy aquifers support wetlands and are directly recharged by rainfall.

The research tested how these aquifers would respond under the climate projections for 2030. It also looked at what would happen if the dry climate since 1975 (even drier since 1997) were to continue.

Groundwater levels under areas of native vegetation and plantations would decline under any of these scenarios. As rainfall declines, the proportion used by vegetation increases and groundwater recharge correspondingly falls.

Large parts of the Gnangara Mound, a major water resource for Perth, are overlain by banksia woodlands and plantations and would experience a lowering of groundwater levels and further loss of dependent wetlands.

Even underground, water levels are dropping. CSIRO

More than half of the Perth Basin has been cleared for use by non-irrigated agriculture. In these areas groundwater levels are expected to remain stable, or in some cases to continue to rise as rainfall declines because the annual crops and pastures use less water than perennials.

Ironically, it is where native vegetation has been cleared with a consequent loss of biodiversity values that there may be enough water in future for permanent streamflows and wetlands.

Analysing the response of rivers and catchments to the climate since 1975 has identified interesting and sometimes unclear relationships. Two basins constituting only 15% of the area contributed 43% of the streamflow and these basins seemed to respond less to rainfall reductions. The reason for this behaviour is unclear.

Interactions between rivers and their surrounding aquifers are projected to change. Fresh groundwater currently enters these rivers as they cross the Perth Basin, often reducing their salinity. However in future, with groundwater levels much lower, it is expected that the rivers will discharge their more saline water into the fresh coastal aquifers.

The study estimated the growth in water demand and compared these with projected water yields to identify areas of shortage and surplus by 2030. The Perth region is relatively water-rich and has been able to supply both itself, and inland agricultural areas and the eastern goldfields, until recently.

The water shortage in the Perth region is anticipated to become worse by 2030.

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68 Comments sorted by

  1. Peter Boyd Lane

    geologist

    An important article. Our aquifers are of critical importance and yet there remain many apparently qualified people who still consider we can extract more and more water from them. Desalination may not be environmentally benign and it may be costly - and so too may be recycling - but these are the ways to go.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Peter Boyd Lane

      Depressing, isn't it?

      I believe there is some reason to hope that smart water metering and general efforts to reduce domestic water consumption could still make a useful contribution - but it could only ever be so much and would hit a bottom limit before too long, so long-term solutions need to be developed.

      Water recycling is another thing that could make a very substantial contribution, but it too would ultimately hit limits.

      Costly may simply be unavoidable if we want to continue to live in places like Perth to the standards we like - those externalities were bound to catch up with us eventually - but there may be ways to make desalination plants less environmentaly damaging: running desal plants on renewable energy would certainly help and, given we're talking moving water around anyway, it may be feasible to create two-level-dam hydro energy 'storage' systems to address problems of intermittency with wind and/or solar...

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  2. Mark Lawson

    senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

    I have no particular argument with the article but I would caution against relying on general climate models for forecasting, particularly in the short term.In 2009 those models were predicting that the big drought in South East Aus would continue just before the area got two years of floods. When I pointed this out last year CSIRO responded that the models had also forecast floods, presumably in the fine print.

    I was under the impression that cycles in WA climate (as opposed to any long term trend due to warming or whatever) are largely governed by the Indian ocean dipole and that is hard to forecast..

    Maybe its better to be prepared for anything..

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Or remember that the not-entirely-predictable El Nino/La Nina cycle can and will create short-term blips in either direction. Once you account for that it's not just a matter of 'in the fine print' at all.

      But I hadn't noticed anyone, not least Don McFarlane above, trying to do short-term forecasts from what are clearly long-term models, much less claiming that you could. Frankly, that wouldn't be a particularly useful exercise anyway as the kinds of rational responses to changing climate and long-term weather patterns are themselves long-term ventures, so you need long-term data.

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Is the only reason you're commenting on this, Mark, that I made the same points to you recently? The facts are in on this topic and you seem to want to ignore them.

      I see you still haven't read the IOCI studies on WA climate and drivers. How about you read them before commenting again.

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    3. Don McFarlane

      Research Scientist at CSIRO

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      The work is not based solely on GCM projections. We also extended the climate records from 1975 and the drier period since 1997 until 2030 to see what may happen to streamflows and groundwater levels. The hydrological impacts have been getting progressively worse since about 1975 and most GCMs indicate this trend may continue.

      The main mechanism thought responsible for the drying climate is relatively straightforward. As the world warms the mid latitude high pressure cells strengthen and the…

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    4. Peter Boyd Lane

      geologist

      In reply to Don McFarlane

      Don,
      Does the CSIRO have a view on the impact of land clearing and deforestation on regional climate? Apart from reduced transpiration, loss of mulch and retention of moisture and salination, it seems logical that those huge areas of (relatively) bare land would get hotter (it self not good) and be a buffer against cold fronts moving north.

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    5. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Don McFarlane

      Don - that's all fair enough and I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your assessment, but I would be more comfortable with accepting it if there was a climate forecasting track record, particularly in rainfall..

      I seem to recall reading very similar comments before the breaking of the drought in South East Aus, and then later being told by academics at the University of Queensland that rainfall patterns closely followed the PDO index.Now that's the East of course and the west is governed by quite different factors but, well, your forecast is there.. thanks for the response..

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    6. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Perhaps - but you forget that governments in the South East did react to scientific forecasts by building desalination plants - they wer built in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and NSW and all are now useless.. the one in WA is the only one that has proved to be of any use..

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    7. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Well, no, I don't agree that the facts are in on this topic at all, and I don't recall the points you made to me on another article. Whatever they were, I probably didn't agree with them. Don McFarlane's response below is reasonable, you should read it..

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    8. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Wrong again. I pointed to the IOCI findings, I pointed out that WA agriculture has been drying due to climate change, you denied this being the case. Now you are trying to claim that this is somehow "bad modelling" that can't be relied upon, when we are actually citing actual data.

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    9. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael - um, I wasn't making any claims.. you mean was I claiming that there was a South East climate initiative.. the exact name slips my mind that forecast the drought would continue just before it broke? But, but.. that's notorious.. It was all over the media at the time.. the dams would never be full again. The public remembered that claim vividly, its one of the reasons why voters in general have been wary of the greenhouse material since.. If you seriously don't know, I'll find you the name of the initiative..

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    10. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim - bad modelling? Where did that come from? No, as I recall I was challenging you to disentangle the economic effects of climate change from other noise in the ag system, which hasn't been done by anybody. So now I see you're WA hence the additional noise.. I never denied that farms are closing or that farmers do it tough during a drought.. Although I was under the impression the overall wheat harvests, that is Aus-wide, had been holding up well.. I was looking at some of the stats from whatever ABARE calls itself these days just yesterday.. must look again..

      Our chats are always so interesting but they do wander around a bit..

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    11. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Mark - climate is decades or longer, weather is timescales up to about a decade or so.

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    12. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Once again, you are wrong. You directly claimed that climate models were wrong or inaccurate or not to be relied upon. You also directly claimed that there was no proof of climate change economic impacts on agriculture, to which I replied with a link to a search of that very topic in the Australian Journal of Agricultural Resource Economics. There has been plenty of work on this topic, my own agency has done quite a bit, various Universities have done quite a bit. Again, if you want to come to WA…

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    13. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Mark Lawson stated, "In 2009 those models were predicting that the big drought in South East Aus would continue just before the area got two years of floods". Can he provide a reference to the models and the original forecast?

      In previous discussions Mark Lawson has made claims about comparisons of models and data that were in error.

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    14. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael - I'm astonished that you know nothing of this but the major problem is that of The South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative which reported in August 2009. this declared that rainfall would be permanently affected and that the drought would continue. They promptly got two years of floods and more floods in Brisbane recently. Last year, before the latest set of floods, the Climate Commission declared that the trend was still towards the climate drying (on of their reports contains a defense of the 09 projections). I'm not necessarily disputing they can still point to a trend but their complete failure in the short term does not inspire confidence. Also search on "barbecue summer" and the UK Meteorological Bureau for the failure of their forecasts.

      Now Michael, you know perfectly well I did not make claims that were later found to be in error.. Making such silly statements marks you as an activist rather that an academic..

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    15. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to David Arthur

      David - oh sure.. I'm not disputing that you can still point to a long term drying trend .. the real problem is that how do you know that trend is not in the process of correcting? As I note in another post the South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative reported in August 2009 that rainfall would be permanently affected and that the drought would continue. It obviously didn't and they got more floods in Brisbane recently. The Climate Commission has also been pushing this line about the long term trend is towards drying, but the complete failure of forecasts in the short term hardly inspires confidence does it?
      Also note that there is an alternative in use of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation - this says that basically are seeing a return to the wetter conditions that occurred between the 1940s and the mid-1970s on the Eastern seaboard (search on PDO and you'll see what I mean). WA is different however. .

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    16. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to David Arthur

      they found a use for the desal plant.. good, I'm glad it wasn't a total waste like those in NSW, Vic and SA..

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    17. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim - gotta come back to your stuff that link to the Australian Journal of Agricultural Resource Economics sound interesting, so if you could link it again I'd appreciate it.. .. I'll look at the production figures.. but again you're confusing drought damage with long-term climate trend damage.. you have to prove they are related and then by how much..

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    18. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      How do we know that the SW WA drying trend is not "self-corrrecting"? Because long-term expansion (decades long; it won't reverse until after you and I are deceased) it is being driven by global warming, specifically by intensification of equatorial Hadley circulation: ref: Cai, Cowan & thatcher (all of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research), "Rainfall reductions over Southern Hemisphere semi-arid regions: the role of subtropical dry zone expansion", Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 702 doi:10.1038/srep00702…

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    19. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      The SA desal plant won't be a total waste either, since they'd be a bit fool hardy to think that NSW, Qld and Vic are going to stop mismanaging the MDB.

      Regarding desal plants in Sydney and Melb, these could be extremely useful by altering con figuration to accept treated urban wastewater as intake instead of sea water.

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    20. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to David Arthur

      David - we're back to the very point I was making... I'm quite sure you're correct in saying the theory says that the long term trend is towards drying but how do we know the theory is correct.. when it makes successful forecasts. So far this hasn't happened.. If we do get drier years then so be it, you can point and say I told you so. But if we rely on the PDO cycle then basically wetter conditions will prevail for about the next 20 years or so.

      Your attempts to argue that the floods really only affected a part of the areas concerned and that therefore they still count as dry years is absurd. they were very wet years. Deal with it.

      Thank you for your reference to the PDO material but I think it is you who should study the material, not me.. .

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    21. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Mark, can you please provide the URL and name of the relevant South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative report/paper, plus the page number for the relevant statements? This will simplify the discussion.

      An obvious concern is confusing discussions of long-term trends (e.g., rainfall averaged over decades) with shorter duration events (e.g., rainfall in particular years). This happens quite often in the climate debate, the sea level dip (caused by ENSO) being an example.

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    22. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      "I'm quite sure you're correct in saying the theory says that the long term trend is towards drying but how do we know the theory is correct." because it's been happening for the last 4 decades or so in the case of south-east Australia, and for the entire instrumental record for south-west Australia.

      The Brisbane floods are mean it was very wet in Brisbane, that's true, but they do not imply substantial wetness throughout the rest of South-east Australia. Get a clue about it.

      A quick perusal…

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    23. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael - just google it.. its not up to me to supply the reference in this case, particularly as its a notorious incident.. if you can't find it look at the climate commission reports of last year where they defended this piece of forecasting on precisely the grounds you are using .. long term versus short term.. .. And, as I have already pointed out a couple of times, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the defense, but it hardly gives you great confidence in the long-term forecast if its so rudely contradicted in the short term. If nothing else it proved a PR disaster for the global warmers. People really start to switch off after that one..

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    24. Mark Lawson

      senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

      In reply to David Arthur

      But David, mate.. if the SW has been drying for the whole instrument record then it can't be due to global warming can it?

      As for the 40 years you claim as a drying period for the SE you've got the big drought in the way, and just one cycle or less of the PDO. So if the last warm phase of the PDO was a big one as researchers have suggested, then that's the trend. As I have noted the PDO cycle suggests we'll return to the wetter times of the 40s through to the mid-70s, which seems to be what is…

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    25. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      If Mark Lawson has got his facts straight, it should be trivial for him to provde the The South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative report URL, report name and relevant page number where he is sourcing his facts from. If Mark Lawson is inventing "facts" then google searching reveals nothing.

      Why does it seem so hard for Mark Lawson to provide a reference for where he is sourcing his facts?

      As for long-term and short-term events, they are different and need to be treated accordingly. Treating long-term and short-term events in the same way is analogous to declaring a recession each day the stock market falls and declaring a boom each day the stock market rises.

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    26. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      "if the SW has been drying for the whole instrument record then it can't be due to global warming can it?"

      Err, yes it can, Mr LAwson, because humans have been affecting climate for some centuries through industrial fossil fuel use, and for some millenia through large-scale vegetation changes accompanying land-use changes (ie deforestation accompanying agriculture, including enhanced methane emission from wet rice farming).

      I rrecommend Walter F Ruddiman's "Plows, Plagues and Petroleum" for much context-setting information, and for his explanatory hypothesis.

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    27. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Mr Lawson, you don't seem to have taken into account:

      * A pair of La Nina events that were made worse by above average ocean temperatures, leading to record rainfalls. Clearly an expected consequence of global warming - as has been repeatedly stated.

      * The step down in rainfall in south Western Australia since the early 70s because the winter rain fronts moved southwards, also as forecast by climate models.

      It seems to me you are holding a position without much in the way of verification. It would be deeply appreciated that if there was such a noise around the report, as you say there was, that you could refer to the reporting and/or the article for Michael. You are a journalist after all and have access - as did I when I worked for Fairfax and News Limited - to comprehensive internal search programs to dig it up.

      I'm also interested to know if you have spent any time talking in depth to climate modellers and other climate scientists. You know, to get a balanced view.

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    28. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      La Nina/El Nino...did anyone say these wouldn't continue?

      Mark, you are just playing a pea-and-thimble trick muddling up short and long term patterns.

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    29. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Oh, and Mark, insulting highly qualified academics simply marks you as a dysactivist rather than a responsible journalist.

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    30. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      If you thought that longh term forecasts could be used to derive short term predictions then you are, quite simply, foolish.

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    31. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Yes it is Mark, if you're going to insult people as you have and raise ideas that nobody else seems to have heard of, you absolutely DO have a resonsibility to provide evbidence, otherwise there's no way to know that you're not merely trolling.

      Then again, anyone who thinks that the phrase '...but it hardly gives you great confidence in the long-term forecast if its [sic] so rudely contradicted in the short term.' is actually a rational statement has pretty much proven the level of his thinking. Nobody has ever suggested that we wouldn't continue to get El Nino/La Nina patterns - indeed most climate scientists have pointed out that the wet periods are actually likely to get more extreme, even though the overall pattern will be towards drying.

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    32. Don McFarlane

      Research Scientist at CSIRO

      In reply to Peter Boyd Lane

      I am not a climatologist Peter but Professor Tom Lyons at Murdoch University has researched this area specifically e.g. see paper in Boundary Layer Meteorology 138, 121-138 entitled: Numerical Simulations of the Impacts of Land-Cover Change on Cold Fronts in South-West Western Australia. Vegetative cover is generally thought to be important in convective rainfall systems which are more common in the tropics

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  3. Peter Boyd Lane

    geologist

    As well has the impact of global climate change, deforestation in the SW has contributed to declining rainfall. One would hope that a satellite image would highlight natural features, but the most prominent feature in WA is the almost totally cleared wheatbelt with remnant vegetation arund its edges. It may be hard for us to have an impact on GCC, but better managing our remaining forests and revegetating cleared areas is something we can do.

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Peter Boyd Lane

      There are programs in place for that currently. But a little birdy told me yesterday that DEC, who regulate this, are about to be split in two. The reason? Well, the state government wants faster approvals on mining projects.

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  4. Iain Brown

    Retiree

    I remember the smell of bore water sprinklers over buffalo grass in suburban Perth. The water would stain the corrugated asbestos fences. You can be excused if you think I am making this up. Tell me why this idea would not work. Find a tanker ship that is modified to be able to accept water from the Ord River ( 3 Sydney Harbours in volume) and off load it at Fremantle into a water treatment plant. Eventually the price of water may rise to warrant building a pipeline to Kalgoorlie.

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    1. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Iain Brown

      Water is not being paid for at its actual price at the moment. Most of the water is undervalued, but especially that coming out of the desalinisation plant. If we don't start paying the correct amount for the water soon, we will continue to overuse it.

      I know that bore water smell and stain you speak of. The only time you seem to smell it still is at about midnight on all the road verges in the city as poorly maintained sprinklers spray the roads and verges with geysers of water. What a waste of water that is.

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  5. Bob Thomas

    Senior Manager

    I hope that some of you store this article for future reference. It could be interesting but most global warmers have short memories and just roll along into the next outrageous prediction like the polar bears, the glaciers, Kilimanjaro, ice free Arctic, runaway sea level rise (currently approx. 300mm per CENTURY) and so it goes on and Don has just added to the list. Maybe he is hoping to be the Hansen for Australia?

    If Don McFarlane ends up doing a Tim Flannery will he resign? Nope and neither…

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      Err, sea level rise is accelerating. It was 300 mm per century a while ago due to thermal expansion, but terrestrial icecap melt commenced in the 1990's and has been accelerating since then.

      The person I recall CSIRO sacking was Clive Spash, an economist whose "The Brave New World of Carbon Trading" highlighted the fundamental absurdity of emission trading.

      Meanwhile, it's not even possible that climate change isn't one of the defining problems of this century (the other is overpopulation…

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    2. Bob Thomas

      Senior Manager

      In reply to David Arthur

      Err! No that figure on SL is the latest and depending on where you go the figures are 2.8mm per year to 3.2mm per year there is no acceleration outside of error factors in any of the satellite data since 1990.

      Regarding global warming I quote Dr. Norman Page His claim like Professor Salby of McQuarie Uni is that CO2 is at the back of the bus and is not the driver and history shows that.

      "1. CO2 is simply assumed to be the main climate forcing .This is clearly illogical because at all time…

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    3. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      "It is also impossible to have a net positive feedback because systems with total positive feed back are not stable and simply run away to disaster."

      Or they change quickly and dramatically within a certain range until they again stabilise in a very different state. The climate record clearly shows rapid and dramatic changes.

      The historical driver of global climatic change is the gradual changes in the earth's orbit around the sun (15000yr cycle). the climate record does not show a gradual 15000yr cycle in climate change - it shows sharp occcasional rises and falls. Obviously there are positive feedbacks involved.

      The earth's climate is a balance of very powerful forces. If you throw them out of balance (eg by introducing an extra 3.3 W/m^2 radiative forcing) you face the very real risk of rapid climate change.

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    4. Bob Thomas

      Senior Manager

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Interesting Gary - links to any reports that state that they stabilise again?

      I read that a change of just 2% of cloud cover would negate any global warming by CO2. I imagine that a heating world would have greater cloud cover due to increases in evaporation has there been any work by the global warming fraternity on this?

      I am not a zealot of a denialist and do attempt to hear both sides.

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      Thanks Mr Thomas. You're correct that the figure on rate of sea level rise is near current, but how do we know that the RATE of sea level rise is constant?

      As I've tried to explain, we actually know that the rate of sea level rise is itself changing, that it is speeding up.

      The furphy about temperature rise preceding CO2 increases neglects the mechanism which initiated interglacial warm periods.

      1) At the end of a glacial period ("Ice Age" for the hoi polloi) precessions in earth's orbit…

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    6. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      "I am not a zealot of a denialist and do attempt to hear both sides."

      John Cook's recent 'The Conversation' contribution (reprinted at Climate Spectator, and Fairfax and Guardian presses) may b e pertinent (http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/there-is-no-such-thing-as-climate-change-denial-20130218-2ely3.html).

      Both sides of what? On the one hand, there is all considered science, on the other hand a lunatic fringe that believes it's all a commie-greenie-druggie-atheist-poofter plot.

      Guess which "side" has attracted much funding from corporate interests associated with fossil fuel exploitation? http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/feb/15/secret-funding-climate-sceptics-not-restricted-us

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    7. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      The 2% of cloud cover you mention is icy cirrus cloud; I understand geoengineering research with Bismuth tri-iodide (bBI3) is proposed.

      I daresay this "global warming fraternity" you mention will be delighted if BiI3 cloud disruption works, and even more so if it proves sufficiently inexpensive and non-disruptive to stratospheric ozone.

      Mind you, if global warming was neither non-existent nor problematic, BiI3 research would not be required, would it?

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    8. Bob Thomas

      Senior Manager

      In reply to David Arthur

      David Arthur: Take that argument of John Cooks to Prof. Richard H Muller of BEST and see where it takes John Cook. Muller claims that he is open to both arguments and has recently come down on the side of the GW fraternity based on his huge data evaluation. Mind you Judith Curry thinks he has jumped in too quickly but that is as it may be.

      You approach to other scientists is quite disturbing. This does not sound to me like the scientific thinking I grew up with. Is it right to just bag any other…

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    9. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      Yes - increased cloud formation does reflect more incoming energy. But water vapour is also a greenhouse gas. Water vapour is resposible for about 60% of radiative forcing and CO2 about 25%. Also ice sheets reflect more incoming energy than open water.

      It's all very complicated. There's a figure here that illustrates it (pg 314)

      http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/TFK_bams09.pdf

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    10. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      Thanks Mr Thomas.

      I've done enough undergraduate Physical Chemistry to know that the basic mechanism driving global warming is irrefutable. Matter of fact, it's been known since the work of John Tyndall in the 1850's (well over a century prior to establishment of the IPCC; "IPCC theory", if that's the term used by this Page bloke, can only be a bit of dog-whistling).

      Your comments suggest that you haven't had any such training. To remedy this situation, you could start with SSpencer Weart's "Discovery of Global Warming - a History" available as a book or as a set of hyperlinked essays at the website of the American Institute of Physics. http://www.aip.org/history/climate/ .

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    11. Bob Thomas

      Senior Manager

      In reply to David Arthur

      Hi David thanks for the link. Although I do not have training in this area I do have a science degree and have taken an interest in science and read a fair bit over my time. I started life as an engineer and then went into IT. So the problems with Harry's code in the UEA emails is something friends of mine know well.

      It strikes me that apart from throwing bombs over one anothers fences, neither side in this argument talk to one another. This seems strange to me in a discipline where alternate ideas are posited all the time and the ramifications are already huge in terms of financial impacts on the western world and if your side is right it could be very serious.

      I don't believe that the gw theory has done science any good, all that has happened is the exposure of it's underbelly.

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    12. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      Thanks Mr Thomas. The "GW theory" as you describe it is a NECESSARY consequence of all the observations of atmospheric physics that have ever been conducted, as is apparent from Weart's work.

      You write that it hasn't done science any good - well, that's what happens when the truth is revealed to powerful vested interests. I think the inability to address AGW illustrates the degree to which contemporary civilisation has allowed itself to be corrupted by its corporate oligarchy - too ignorant to be left so unaccountable.

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    13. Bob Thomas

      Senior Manager

      In reply to David Arthur

      David - you could be right but doesn't the same analogy also apply to governments these days who want to control all aspects of our lives?

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    14. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      It is a great pity that the issue has become so politicised over recent years.

      I would have thought it was far too important to be turned into a petty partisan political football.
      But I guess I'm not the one determined to become PM at all costs.

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    15. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bob Thomas

      "... could be right but doesn't the same analogy* also apply to governments these days who ...?"

      Mr Thomas, so who do you think is bankrolling the political Parties between which we voters choose?

      That said [asked] it's worth noting that all governments struggle against the expediency of gathering authority to oneself; for all the open-minded liberality with which he started his political career, even John Howard became a centraliser.

      How much greater, then, are the temptations for corporate leaders, whose accountability is not to the citizenry but simply to "shareholder value".

      * [inability to address AGW illustrates the degree to which contemporary civilisation has allowed itself to be corrupted by its corporate oligarchy]

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  6. Chris Owens

    Professional

    When the possibility existed that Melbourne's reservoirs would run dry during the recent drought, the Bracks / Brumby governments pushed for a reduction in onsumption (at least until the desal was operational).

    However as a rule governments have no interest in modifying consumption behaviour. How else do you explain the way charges are heavily weighted on connection rather than usage?

    A few years ago I visited Perth and having read a bit about Perth's water woes, I was staggered to see sprinklers on traffic islands of main roads, running in the middle of a hot day, whilst in Melbourne at the time we were on stage 3 restrictions.

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    1. Peter Boyd Lane

      geologist

      In reply to Chris Owens

      ...... and not just on hot days, but sprinklers sprinkling pavements during rain storms is not uncommon.

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  7. R. Ambrose Raven

    none

    "The water shortage in the Perth region is anticipated to become worse by 2030."

    Is this for real?

    We are having the hottest and most humid summers we have ever had, Perth does not have rain these days, it has the odd brief showers, water pressure is dropping in the bores, significant parts of the timbered areas are putting an end to it all by dying, the Mandurah borefield has gone salt, rivers such as the Gordon River that three decades ago were fresh and flowing are now salty billabongs…

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    1. Don McFarlane

      Research Scientist at CSIRO

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      I agree, just stating that a shortage will get worse is not news. Quantitative estimates of the water gap or surplus is required for managers to make use of the information.

      For people interested in the detail, the third technical report on the website shows estimates of the yield-demand gap (or surplus) for 45 areas in south west of WA. Estimates have been made for the divertible yield of surface water, groundwater and all water sources under a continuation of two past climates and under three possible future climates. It also shows estimates of future water demands under three growth estimates in 14 water use groups. Depending on people’s attitude to risk you can chose between 5 possible climates and 3 growth estimates to decide how big the gap or surplus may be for each water resource is each of these 45 areas.

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    2. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Don McFarlane

      Thanks for that – though the essence of my hand-waving was that the tense in your title is wrong; either "In south-western Australia, water shortages will worsen further" or "In south-western Australia, water shortages are worsening". To put it another way, we have no need to wait. 2030 is here. Yes, I am worried. Worse, most of us are not worried enough.

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  8. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Meanwhile, there's lots of water on Lake Argyle.

    Rather than pipe that water to Perth, wouldn't it make more sense to set up New Perth in the Ord ... after all, there are lots of coastal cities that will be abandoned over the next century or two.

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    1. Iain Brown

      Retiree

      In reply to David Arthur

      Lake Argyle is beautiful at this time of year, if your a bird. Meanwhile in the sheep capital of Wagin they can recall waterskiing accidents and drownings at Lake Parkeyering. It to is beautiful at this time of year especially if you like photographing the bird life surrounding this dry salt lake.

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