ClimateWatch

An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

Hotter and earlier spring

December 2013

By Kristine Nga and Lynda Chambers

A newly published article in The Conversation remarked that this spring was the warmest on record in Australian history.   Approximately 83% of the country had record warm spring and mean temperatures that were 1.57C above average (1961-1990).  However, increasing temperatures are not the only trigger impacting the phenology of species, water availability is another factor.   Australia is likely to have its hottest calendar year on record in 2013.  However, some areas, like Western Australia, western Victoria, and Tasmania may have wetter-than-average conditions for summer, while the east coast may continue to be dry and hot through the season. 

With scientists confirming a hotter than average 2013, ClimateWatchers are already observing earlier flowering times and migration of spring birds.  Lynda Chambers, ClimateWatch scientist and climate expert at the Bureau of Meteorology, has found that on average Jacaranda flowering times were earlier in 2012 and 2013 compared to 2009-2011.  Regionally, flowering times were earlier in Western Australia than in the east.  Jacarandas are not the only plants flowering earlier this year.  An earlier article published in the Sydney Morning Herald noted that wattles in the Cranbourne gardens began flowering in August according to Tim Entwisle, head of the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens.

As Australia heads into what is expected to be a hotter than average summer, how else will our species be impacted?  Help ClimateWatch and our scientists collect improve our understanding by observing species now.