Australia is inching towards an unliveable future that could see “1-in-10-year” extreme heat events happen in nine out of 10 years instead.
A new report from the United Nations has confirmed the world has warmed by 1.1 degrees celsius, with Australia actually warming by a much higher 1.4C.
“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report states.
The significant rise in temperatures is already having impacts, with the report noting that Australasia, which includes New Zealand, has already experienced more hot extremes, higher rates of sea level rise than the global average, decrease in snow cover and depth, an increase in the frequency of fire weather days, a longer fire season and less rainfall during winter in southern Australia.
Globally, marine heatwaves, which are linked to the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, have doubled in frequency since the 1980s.
“Unfortunately, we can expect worsening impacts on coral reefs from marine heatwaves in the future,” Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub climate consultant Neil Plummer said.
These impacts are expected to get worse as temperatures continue to rise.
The IPCC report states that every extra 0.5C of global warming, causes “clearly discernible increases” in the intensity and frequency of heatwaves, high rainfall and droughts in some regions.
Extreme daily rainfall events are expected to intensify by about 7 per cent for each 1C of warming. The proportion of category 4-5 tropical cyclones are also expected to increase.
The more that warming increases beyond 1.5C, the more unpredictable the impacts become and scientists say they cannot rule out extreme scenarios such as ice sheet collapse or abrupt ocean circulation changes, despite them being very unlikely.
The IPCC expects global temperatures will exceed 1.5C of warming within 20 years, based on current climate pledges.
Up to 2.5C of warming within 40 years is expected, with the world is on track for 3.5C of warming by the end of the century.
The way climate change impacts the environment can vary across regions but can also include more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought.