Discussion and Conclusions

In the south west Pacific, climate and extreme climatic events dominate in providing challenges for coping with agrometeorological risks and uncertainties. ENSO imposes large seasonal to interannual climate variability throughout the south west Pacific. It generally modulates the rainfall climate and either causes floods or droughts and displaces tropical cyclone tracks. Droughts made up one of the largest components and the experiences during the 1997-1998 El Niño event highlight the significant consequences that such climate-related extreme events can have for the southwest Pacific, ttese provide risks and uncertainties for coping strategies including crop yields and quality, water management, soil salinity, water erosion and runoff.

Tropical cyclones are one of the most devastating risks for agrometeorology on the small island developing states in the region, ttese generally cause large-scale destruction to crops and infrastructure through high intensity rainfall and severe winds. Although warning systems can predict the tropical cyclone tracks, presently little can be done to protect crops and agriculture from the full impacts of the extreme rainfall and hurricane force winds.

On the medium to longer term, although the IPO can cause shifts in the mean climate state (temperature and rainfall), this is less of a threat to coping strategies. Of more immediate concern are the impacts that global warming will have on regional climates. Firstly for the developed countries (e.g Australia, New Zealand) coping strategies are more sophisticated and involve both structural and non-structural measures to reduce the impacts of change on crop and livestock production. In these countries it will be the rate of change that will pose the risks. During the course of the 21st century, scientific evidence points to global-average surface temperatures are likely increasing by 2 to 4.5°C as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increase. Any warming above about 2°C (Figure 7.6) is likely to be outside the immediate coping range for agriculture and forestry. At the same time there will be changes in precipitation, and climate extremes such as hot days, heavy rainfall, drought and fire risk are expected to increase throughout the

Fig. 7.6. ^e risk of adverse impacts increase with the magnitude of climate change. Global mean annual temperature is used as a proxy for the magnitude of climate change (IPCC WG2, as modified by Mas-trandea and Sch-nedier, 2004).

Fig. 7.6. ^e risk of adverse impacts increase with the magnitude of climate change. Global mean annual temperature is used as a proxy for the magnitude of climate change (IPCC WG2, as modified by Mas-trandea and Sch-nedier, 2004).

region, tte greatest challenge associated with any warming will be those areas where rainfall decreases especially in arid or semi-arid areas with will pose additional stresses on an already finely managed agriculture and forestry activities, tte potential increase and spread of pests and diseases will also be important.

For developing countries, especially small island developing states in the south west Pacific, the largest threats to agriculture will be posed by impacts of warming on tropical cyclones and high intensity rainfall. Warming is likely to strengthen tropical cyclones, and increase maximum wind speeds and high intensity rainfall produced by these systems.

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