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Australia’s 2017 environment scorecard: like a broken record, high temperatures further stress our ecosystems

Albert Van Dijk and Madeleine Cahill write in The Conversation (12.4.18) about their annual assessment of the health of Australia's environment, which shows mostly stable conditions in 2017, but that ecosystems on land and at sea suffered under ever higher temperatures.

'While rainfall conditions were generally good across Australia in 2017, record-breaking temperatures stressed our ecosystems on land and sea, according to our annual environmental scorecard. Unfortunately, it looks like those records will be broken again next year – and again in the years after that.

'Our terrestrial environment has done relatively well in 2017, mainly thanks to good rainfall and leftover soil moisture from the year before. However, such a short summary for a country the size of a continent is bound to hide large regional differences. 2017 was no exception.

'Western Australia and the Northern Territory received good rains, with vegetation growth, river flows and wetland area all coming in above average. By contrast, Queensland and particularly New South Wales saw a reversal of the previous year’s gains.

'... Last year made it abundantly clear that climate change is here now, and here to stay. We will be seeing new heat records for years to come and, sadly, some species and ecosystems are unlikely to survive the onslaught. But there are still things we can do to limit the damage. Reducing carbon emissions will still help limit future warming. Avoiding the destruction of native ecosystems should be a no-brainer.'

 

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