AS SOUTHERN Australia shivers through a cold snap that has seen centres such as Melbourne record their coldest summer day in over a decade, climate officials have warned it is only a blip on the horizon of a warming and drying trend.
Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO climatologists hosted a webinar this week to discuss the State of the Climate report issued last month.
Senior climatologist with the Bureau Blair Trewin said that this year's wet conditions, while breaking records for short-term daily and monthly rainfall figures in some cases, was not enough to significantly alter the long-term pattern.
"The period from 2000 to 2021 was 10 per cent below the 1900-1999 average for rainfall, that figure only came up to 9pc below average if you include 2022," Dr Trewin said.
"The long-term trend is clearly for a marked reduction in cool season rain, especially important in southern areas with winter dominant rainfall," he said.
"This year was just the fourth year since 2000 where we've had above average cool season rainfall."
Fellow presenter at the webinar CSIRO research team leader of regional projections John Clarke said some areas had been hit harder by declining rainfall than others.
"The trends have been particularly strong in parts of south-west Western Australia," Mr Clarke said.
Dr Trewin said Australian temperatures had risen by 1.47 degrees since 1900.
Climate drivers were becoming more conducive to hotter and drier conditions.
"The positioning of the sub-tropical ridge is cutting off potential moisture feeds, while we are seeing more and longer marine heatwaves," he said.
Mr Clarke said in spite of an improvement in capturing carbon dioxide in land sinks, there were still higher rates of CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere.
He said there had been a noted cut in emissions during the low travel years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with the drying pattern the report, released every two years, shows an increase in extreme heat events, intense heavy rainfall, longer fire seasons and sea level rise.
When asked to identify a particular area of concern Dr Trewin identified heat waves.
"There were many more deaths from the heatwaves preceeding the Black Summer bushfires than the bushfires themselves, heat can be deadly in our environment."
Mr Clarke said he was monitoring the availability of water.
"Stream flows have dropped considerably over the past 20 years and given the changing pattern of rainfall, with less falling in the cooler months when there is more run-off, this is likely to continue."