(EnergyAsia, April 4 2012, Wednesday) — Australia’s land and oceans have continued to warm in response to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, said the country’s leading science agency CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.

In their joint ‘State of the Climate 2012’ report, the two agencies said there was a “clear decade-to-decade picture of Australia’s climate” that included “highly variable” behaviour from one year to the next.

The report found that the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere had risen to around 390 parts per million in 2011, a level unprecedented in the past 800,000 years. During the past decade it has risen at more than 3% per year, which is projected to cause significant further global warming.

CSIRO chief executive, Megan Clark, said:

“Much of Australia may have lurched from drought to floods since the previous ‘State of the Climate’, but this has occurred against a backdrop of steadily increasing air and ocean temperatures and rising sea levels. What’s more, the rate of change is increasing.

“The fundamental physical and chemical processes leading to climate change are well understood, and CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology observations demonstrate that change is occurring now.”

Bureau of Meteorology acting director, Rob Vertessy, said the latest report was based on improved understanding drawn from detailed analysis of our national climate record, which goes back more than a hundred years.

He said: “Ground, ocean and satellite based observations are giving us highly consistent observations of this warming trend. ‘State of the Climate 2012’ confirms that each decade has been warmer than the previous decade since the 1950s, with an increase in the number of warm nights, and more monthly maximum temperature records being broken.

“CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology will continue to provide observations, projections, research, and analysis so that Australia’s responses to the challenges of a changing climate are underpinned by robust scientific evidence of the highest quality.”

‘State of the Climate 2012’ showed a general trend toward increased spring and summer monsoonal rainfall across Australia’s north, and a decline in late autumn and winter rainfall across southern Australia.

Sea-levels had risen around Australia at rates equal to or greater than the global average, and sea-surface temperatures in the region had increased faster than the global average.