Climate change has the potential to become a major threat to the region (Lough, 2001). Whilst climate varies naturally on timescales, from millions of years to year-to-year, since the advent of the industrial age there has been a rapid increase in temperatures, and the variability of weather events.
The International Panel on Climate Change considers that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal”. A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that 2015 was the hottest year since records began in 1880, breaking 2014’s record by a large margin, with 15 of the 16 warmest years occurring in this century (NOAA, 2016). There is now a very high degree of certainty that the world will experience greater extremes in temperature ranges with average temperatures rising, longer dry periods, more intense individual rainfall events, and more extreme river runoff events and water flow characteristics (Cubasch, et al., 2013).
A recent CSIRO technical report on climate change in Australia identified average temperature rises in the Monsoonal North region (in which the Burdekin Dry Tropics region is situated) of between 0.9˚C and 1.0˚C since 1910, and predicts further increases of greater than 1.3˚C by the end of the century (Moise, et al., 2015).
The CSIRO’s Monsoonal North East report, and previous reports for northern Australia, outline the following general projected changes during the next century as a consequence of changes in the climate (Moise, et al., 2015) (Miles, 2005).