Border’s October temperatures almost six degrees warmer than average

WATCHmr_logoMEDIA RELEASE – 2 NOVEMBER 2015

This has been Australia’s hottest October on record and Albury’s day-time temperatures were 5.8 degrees Celsius warmer than average. Lizette Salmon, spokesperson for Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH) said “The average Albury October day-time temperature is 21.2 degrees, but this year it was 27 degrees, a horrifying six degrees warmer than usual. According to climate scientists Australia’s record-breaking temperatures are at least six times more likely due to human-induced global warming.”

The hotter, drier Border temperatures have impacted on local flora and fauna. Albury botanist, Paul Scannell has been conducting threatened species surveys and wildflower walks through September and October and estimates wildflower numbers are down 40-60 percent. “I have noticed an amazing reduction in wildflowers this year, with only the shadiest and wettest areas sustaining anything like a normal flowering and seed production. This will reduce seed numbers in the soil and thus reduce species emergence should fire occur. Weeds would eventually increase in numbers, displacing native species.”

Mr Scannell has also noticed annual flower displays in the Albury Botanic Gardens have been early and short lived in their flower production. “The September temperatures were around average, but the rain didn’t eventuate like it used to. October started promisingly, but then went downhill very quickly with the heat and the dry. We just don’t get the deep soil water penetration, autumn to spring, that we used to and many of our trees are defoliating through summer, exacerbating the dry soil conditions.”

Conditions have also impacted reptiles and insects. “Reptiles have been out and about very early this year, including goannas and skinks, with many showing signs of poor nutrition. This may be a shortage of food in the wild and increased temperatures possibly causing dehydration. Many of the normal orchid pollinator wasps were absent in the orchid areas and this may be due to a lack of strong pheromone production from the orchids due to dry hot conditions. Thus with the few flowers that were produced, unfortunately very few actually set seed-pods.”

WATCH has been advocating for stronger action on climate change for eight years, with members intensely frustrated with the federal government’s stance on the issue. “We’re witnessing repeated record-breaking temperatures, yet Australia’s pumping out more greenhouse gas emissions than ever and the federal government has just approved the world’s biggest coal mine. Our greenhouse gas reduction target is a joke, our direct action plan is a farce and we’re a pariah on the world stage. As a wealthy country and the highest per capita emitter in the world we should, at the very least, do our fair share.”

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