Global warming will mean twice as many days over 35 by 2090 in Murray Bridge, says Australia Institute

Murray Bridge could get a lot hotter by 2090 unless more is done to stop global warming, says the Australia Institute. Photo: Shutterstock.
Murray Bridge could get a lot hotter by 2090 unless more is done to stop global warming, says the Australia Institute. Photo: Shutterstock.

Murray Bridge will experience twice as many days over 35 degrees by the end of this century unless something is done to stop climate change, researchers predict.

If you thought last week's run of hot weather was a bit much, just you wait until 2090, the Australia Institute's research suggests.

By then, it could be the norm for almost two months out of every year.

Australia Institute projects manager Noah Schultz-Byard said things would only keep getting worse unless more was done to stop global warming.

“This report paints a clear picture of the very real way that global warming will affect one of South Australia’s key food producing areas," he said.

"More regular heatwaves, that are even more extreme, will have a disastrous impact on local productivity, livelihoods, infrastructure, health and the economy."

He said heatwaves already killed more Australians than all other natural disasters combined, as the human body's ability to function and cool itself was compromised when the temperature reached 35 degrees, leading to heat stroke and organ damage, including cardiac problems.

The good news was that disaster could be averted, he said, so long as global carbon emissions were reduced and global warming slowed down or stopped.

One of the simplest ways that could be achieved was by transitioning to wind and solar energy generation, something which could create huge economic opportunities for regions such as the Murraylands.

The Vena Energy solar farm at Tailem Bend recently began producing electricity, and there five other large-scale public or private solar projects are currently in the works in the Murraylands, as well as Equis Energy's long-delayed wind farm near Palmer.

More than one in three Murraylands households already has solar power.

Crunching the numbers

Between 1980 and 2010, Murray Bridge experienced an average of 21 days over 35 degrees each summer, and four days over 40 degrees.

But those will become the norm by the middle of this century, the report predicts.

By 2090, based on the federal government's current emissions-reduction policies, an average summer would feature up to 37 days over 35 – almost twice as many – and 22 days over 40 degrees.

Warming would continue even if governments around the world are able to more effectively limit their emissions, but would not be so unbearable.

In a low-emissions scenario, Murray Bridge could expect an average summer to be no worse than 2018-19, with 26 fewer 35-degree days and 12 fewer 40-degree days compared with the worst-case scenario.

Yet the warming of Murray Bridge may already be outpacing the Australia Institute's model, which was based on Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO projections and weather observations between 1980 and 2010.

The city has endured several particularly hot summers since then.

The one which just ended featured 33 days over 35 degrees and 16 over 40, numbers the model suggested were not likely until the second half of the 21st century.

The city's weather station recorded a new all-time high of 47.5 degrees on January 24, a temperature not reached since at least 1885.

What is being done

Under the 2016 Paris Agreement, the Australian government and almost 200 others agreed to aim to limit global warming to 1.5 or two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

As part of the agreement, Australia promised to reduce its overall emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

The centrepiece of the federal government's current plan is a Climate Solutions Fund of $2 billion over 10 years, which will be used to pay greenhouse gas emitters to reduce their emissions.

It plans to spend a further $1.5 billion expanding the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme and promoting energy efficiency and electric cars.