Timing is everything

From Craig Macaulay, CSIRO:

Depending on where you source your news, the November 18 release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on weather extremes (http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/) attracted a mixed response in Australia.

This can be partly attributed to the leaking of a draft report earlier in the week, a pre-empting of the report outcomes based on documents held by the BBC but more particularly the timing of the release by the IPCC’s Chris Field at 1.30 pm in Kampala, Uganda – 9.30 pm on Friday evening AEST, a time convenient for US and European media but when most Australian newspapers had been put to bed.

Contributing through the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, Kathy McInnes was the only Special Report co-author on the ground in Australia and accessible. The other Australian co-authors, Neville Nicholls from Monash and John Handmer from RMIT, Melbourne, had been in Uganda and were en route back to Australia.

The full report can be found at – http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/ – and a separate assessment of the treatment can be found in The Conversation by former CMAR scientist Roger Jones – http://theconversation.edu.au/spinning-uncertainty-the-ipcc-extreme-weather-report-and-the-media-4402

 Extremes report key findings

For Australia, it is very likely that there has been an overall decrease in the number of cold days and nights and an overall increase in the number of warm days and nights,

There is low confidence that any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.

It is likely that there has been an increase in extreme coastal high water related to trends in mean sea level in the late 20th century.

It is likely that anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures on the global scale. There is medium confidence that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation on the global scale. It is likely that there has been an anthropogenic influence on increasing extreme sea levels via mean sea level contributions. There is low confidence in attribution of changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences.

It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur through the 21st century and it is very likely that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells, including heat waves, will continue to increase over most land areas.

IPCC terms | Virtually certain:  99-100% probability | Very likely:  90-100% probability | likely:  66-100% probability | About as likely as not:  33 to 66% probability | Unlikely:  0-33% probability | Very unlikely:  0-10% probability | Exceptionally unlikely:  0-1% probability