Climate change projections and the natural environment
Climate change can impact on the natural environment in many ways and can intensify existing threatening processes.
Less average annual rainfall, higher rates of evaporation and reduced surface water run-off will result in rivers, estuaries and wetlands receiving less water and changes in river flow regimes.
More frequent intense rainfall events can cause increased flooding, soil erosion and reduced water quality.
Coastal environments can become inundated or more saline as the result of sea level rise. Storm surge can erode coastal areas and damage vegetation communities.
The impact of climate change on plants and animals is difficult to predict with any certainty, as changes will occur from individuals to ecosystems.
Existing threats to native vegetation and habitat will be amplified, including weed invasion, fragmentation, drought and intense bushfires.
A gradual change in the composition of vegetation communities may occur, as some species are replaced by those suited to warmer, drier environments.
Fauna species may change their distribution, abundance, behaviour and the timing of events such as migration or breeding.
The most susceptible species of plants and animals will be those with restricted or specialised habitat requirements, poor dispersal abilities or small populations.
Aboriginal cultural values such as artefacts, scar trees, shell middens or burial sites may be damaged or lost as the result of climate change impacts (e.g. fire, flood, coastal erosion and shoreline retreat).