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TAS Country : October 28th 2010
14 Tasmanian Country Friday, October 29, 2010 Opinion www.tfga.com.au Climate change a sinister' force TFGA matters with Jan Davis DRY TIMES: Forecasters predict there will be less rainfall inland. WE are beginning to get a picture of the impact of climate change on Tasmanian agriculture and some of the effects warming will have on what we can produce and where. Clearly, there are other, more sinister implications, such as the likely prevalence of different pests and diseases that are fellow travellers with new crops and products. So, as important as what we might be planting in the ground in the year 2050 or 2100, is the question of biosecurity. There is a fascinating study currently taking place in Tasmania --- the Climate Futures for Tasmania project, a collaborative research effort by the host of Tasmanian-based scientific research organisations that are studying global climate change, in this instance under the umbrella of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co- operative Research Centre at the Hobart campus of the University of Tasmania. The CFT research projects climate change in Tasmania through to the year 2100, taking data from global climate models and downscaling them to focus on 720 individual areas, or cells, each 14 square kilometres. This is an exceptional study for Tasmania because previous models, which concentrated on the national and global implications of climate change, divided Tasmania into just two or three cells. To have more than 700 separate geographical areas is invaluable. The CFT project's modelling superimposes predicted synoptic patterns over the known topography of Tasmania and produces the outlook for the general climate, agriculture, water and extreme events. Project leader Professor Nathan Bindoff says the detail is so fine that, in the wind hazard component of the Tasmanian study, one researcher can analyse climate change implications for every urban roof in Tasmania. Space precludes me even summarising the full impact on Tasmanian agriculture of climate change, but several examples demonstrate the effects. As Tasmania warms, it moves up through the bands of critical temperature. While we will be able to grow warmer-climate crops, we will steadily lose the winter chills and frosts that have made the state an ideal place to grow crops such as blackcurrants and pinot noir. CFT scientist Dr Greg Holz said that if you were growing blackcurrants in Tasmania today, it would pay to buy a nearby hill, or consider moving the plants further south as the 21st century progresses. If you were producing pinot noir grapes, you might have to consider switching to cabernet or shiraz grapes because the closer we get to the year 2100, the more difficult it is likely to be for Tasmanians to continue to produce some of Australia's best pinot. Frankly, I find that quite distressing. In the first of seven reports to be published, CFT looked at two temperature scenarios proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Under the more extreme scenario, Tasmania's mean temperature will rise by 2.9 degrees Celsius by 2100 (compared with 3.4 degrees globally). Under the less extreme, it will rise by 1.6 degrees (1.8 degrees globally). ''The temperature will not rise as much in Tasmania because it has a maritime climate in which the Southern Ocean acts as a buffer,'' Prof Bindoff said. Our annual rainfall would not change dramatically, but there would be more on the coast and less on the Central Highlands. I can't stress enough the importance of constant vigilance. The changing nature of pests, diseases and weeds that we are likely to face means that biosecurity will become a major issue for Tasmania, notably because it is currently free of fruit fly, which gives us an enormous advantages over overseas markets, particularly in China and Japan. As Dr Holz has said, it is imperative that the Department of Primary Industries is resourced sufficiently to monitor for fruit fly and other new arrivals. This information has been prepared without taking into account your personal circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs. All applications for loans or credit are subject to lending criteria. 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October 21st 2010
November 4th 2010