Government, industry leaders and academics will meet in Bendigo this week to workshop designs for local adaptation to climate change.
Victoria University Centre for Strategic Economic Studies' Professor Roger Jones said preparing our landscapes, cities and communities for the future was crucial.
"This event recognises that climate, its associated hazards and the people and places exposed to those hazards can change very quickly," Professor Jones said.
The climate scientist, formerly with the CSIRO, brings expertise on climate change risk to the event. He has been briefing decision-makers in the Bendigo Region for over a decade and last year published a summary of past, present and future regional climate in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria.
He said summer temperatures in Bendigo had increased by 1.2°c since 1997 and that summers had been consistently hot for the past 15 years.
Days of 40°c or above had increased from an average of 0.7 to 2.4 and days of 35°c or above had increased from 10.8 to 13.8, he said. Drought has also accompanied hotter and drier conditions.
He said these conditions have contributed to around a 50 per cent increase in days of high fire danger or above.
The wet conditions in January this year were exceptional and can be linked to ten similar events over the past century. Research showing less storm generation over southern Australia in recent decades suggests dry conditions on average would continue, he said.
Drier and warmer conditions will lead to fewer wet events on average but the most extreme events will be wetter.
"Essentially we're looking at a situation of worse floods and more drought," Professor Jones said.
The workshop will also consider a scenario where the rapid change experienced in 1997 is repeated in 2020.
He said the two-day event 'Design-led decision support for regional climate adaptation', which is led from RMIT University's Centre for Design by Rob Roggema, would involve intensive workshops and an important opportunity for local government and industry to look at safety and resilience issues for the Bendigo region in the face of these predictions.
The Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research-funded event is at the All Seasons resort in Bendigo November 17 and 18 2011.
Available for interview:
(03) 9919 1992; 0434 543 425; [email protected]
Michael Quin, Communications Officer (research)
Marketing and Communications, Victoria University
(03) 9919 9491; 0431 815 409; [email protected]