Winter in Australia will disappear by 2050, new research claims

Image: James D. Morgan / Contributor, Getty Images

Visual design and climate change academics have teamed up to help Australians see how winter will disappear and a ‘new summer’ will emerge by 2050.

Academics from the School of Art & Design (SOA&D) and the Australian National University Climate Change Institute have created a tool that allows users to see how climate change will impact temperatures for thousands of towns across Australia.

The visualisation shows that winter as we know it will disappear, while a ‘new summer’ with sustained temperature peaks sometimes well above 40ºC will become normal.

SOA&D Senior Lecturer Dr Geoff Hinchliffe, who was raised in Western Sydney and Canberra, told Business Insider Australia he hopes the tool helps empower voters heading into the federal election.

“We really hope that it motivates people to think about what inaction on climate change can mean in their own home town and taking that to the polls. Take that to their local members,” Dr Hinchcliffe said.

Dr Hinchcliffe stressed he, like most Australians, is not a climate scientist and therefore needs tools like this to understand the problem at a local level.

“In terms of seeing the results, I’m probably like most people in Australia and just look at that with horror. It’s really apparent that inland areas, like Canberra, like Western Sydney, are going to feel more impact than the coastal regions.

Supplied: Climate Change tool shows Canberra’s weather by 2050

“We looked at the historical average temperatures of each season and compared them to the projected data and what we find everywhere is that there’s really no period of a sustained or lasting winter,” Dr Hinchliffe said in the release.

“In 30 years’ time winter as we know it will be non-existent. It ceases to be everywhere apart from a few places in Tasmania,” he said.

Dr Hinchcliffe, who has teenagers at home, told Business Insider Australia he feels a bit of guilt about what the next generation is being asked to inherit.

“I think we should shoulder a little more of that weight and ensure that what they inherit is in good order,” he said.

Supplied: School of Art & Design’s Geoff Hinchcliffe and Mitchell Whitelaw

The tool uses data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and Scientific Information for Land Owners (SILO). It shows how many degrees average temperatures will rise by in each location and how many more days over 30 or 40 degrees there will be in 2050 compared to now.

“As well as the data, we also focused on developing the most effective visual forms for conveying how climate change is going to affect specific locations,” Dr Hinchliffe said. “That meant using colour, shape and size around a dial composition showing a whole year’s worth of temperature values in a single snapshot.”

Associate Professor Mitchell Whitelaw said the team didn’t want to misrepresent the data, which meant the visualisation was crucial to conveying the information meaningfully and accurately.

“The research and innovation here is in the visualisation and compilation of all this data. Our innovation is in the way this existing data is communicated and presented – hopefully in a memorable, engaging way,” Associate Prof Whitelaw said.

The tool was prepared for the Australian Conservation Foundation and can be viewed here.

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