1307.6 - Tasmanian State and Regional Indicators, Mar 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2009   
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Image: Environment ENVIRONMENT


According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 'climate change' refers to change which is directly or indirectly attributed to human behaviours. Such behaviours have led to the altering of Earth's atmosphere in addition to expected, natural climate variability over time (United Nations - UN 1992).

For Tasmania, it is difficult to predict what the effects of climate change will be in the future. Global climate models provide only one or two points of information about Tasmania (The Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre - ACE CRC 2007). According to the Garnaut Climate Change Review (Garnaut R 2008), as a result of climate change, Tasmania will begin to experience small changes in climate resulting in warmer weather, increasing storm events and decreased livestock capacity.


In Tasmania, tree ring records have shown major changes over the past 3,000 years in the intensity of climate variability, with the last change calculated to have been around 1900 (Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation and Bureau of Meteorology - CSIRO and BoM 2007). Over the last century, Tasmania's state-wide average temperature has risen by nearly 1oC. Tasmania has experienced its warmest years in recent times; 2007 was the second warmest year on record, with the mean temperature 0.77oC above normal. Rainfall totals in 2007 were below average, particularly along the east coast and southern midlands (BoM 2008).

MEAN DAILY MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE, Tasmania, annual to 2008

Map: Mean daily maximum temperature, Tasmania, annual to 2008
Source: Bureau of Meteorology, 2008

PERCENTAGE OF MEAN RAINFALL, Tasmania, 1 Jan-31 Oct 2008
Map: Percentage of mean rainfall, Tasmania, 1 Jan-31 Oct 2008
Source: Bureau of Meteorology, 2008

A CSIRO evaluation of 13 climate change models (where Tasmania and Victoria were considered as one region) predicted that the extent and frequency of extremely hot and dry years will increase in the future. More specifically, it is projected that between 2010-2040, extremely hot years will be experienced by approximately 75% of the region every 1.3 years on average, 10% will experience years of extremely low rainfall approximately every 12 years, and that by 2030, 11% of the region will experience extremely low soil moisture every 9 years (CSIRO and BoM 2008).


With increasing temperature and decreasing rainfall trends, it follows that water availability and consumption patterns will also be affected by climate change.

Water Consumption

In 1999, Hydro Tasmania's water storage was at 64.1% of capacity (Hydro-electric Corporation 2002). In June 2007, storage levels had reduced to 19.3% of capacity, with a low of 16.9% in May 2007. Such a fall, to below 20% of total capacity, has not occurred since 1967, which at that time led to the restriction of power and the need to locate over 100 megawatts of power from other generation sources. Such conditions over the 2006-07 financial year led to notable water, environmental and energy management issues for Tasmania's largest energy producer (Hydro-electric Corporation 2007).

Tasmania's water consumption increased 4.1% to 434 gigalitres (GL) from 2000-01 to 2004-05. In 2004-05, agriculture was the largest consumer of water, accounting for 59.4% of all water consumed, followed by households (16.0%), and manufacturing (11.3%). Water consumption by agriculture increased 16.3%, from 221.6 GL in 2000-01 to 257.8 GL in 2004-05. During the same period, household water consumption increased 17.1%, from 59.3 GL to 69.4 GL, while manufacturing consumed 38.2% less water, decreasing from 79 GL to 49 GL.

HYDRO TASMANIA, Percentage of water storage capacity

Graph: Hydro Tasmania, percentage of water storage capacity

WATER CONSUMPTION, Tasmania, By industry

Graph: Water Consumption, Tasmania, by industry

In 2004-05, 28.4% of Tasmanian agricultural businesses reported water issues, compared with 38.1% nationally. Surface water availability was the greatest issue (51.3%). Over one third (34.3%) of Tasmanian agricultural businesses reported initiating water activities, compared with 32.9% nationally. Earthworks were the main activities undertaken (60.3%).

WATER ISSUES, Tasmania, 2004-05

Graph: Reported Agricultural Water Issues, Tasmania, 2004-05

WATER ACTIVITIES, Tasmania, 2004-05

Graph: Reported Agricultural Water Activities, Tasmania, 2004-05


Sea Level

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on past analyses of changes in sea level concluded that, from tide gauge data, the average sea level rise across the world during the last century was between 1.0 to 2.0 mm per year. This average rate of rising is higher than during the nineteenth century (Church, Gregory, Huybrechts, Kuhn, Lambeck, Nhuan, Qin and Woodworth 2001).

From observations of the sea level at Port Arthur between 1841 and 2002, an average yearly sea level rise, relative to the land, of approximately 0.8 mm per year has been recorded. Average sea level increase at Port Arthur, as a result of the increased volume of the ocean, is estimated to be approximately 1.0 mm per year (Hunter, Coleman and Pugh 2003). This indicates a sea level rise in excess of 13.0 cm between 1841 and 2002 (Hunter, Coleman and Pugh 2002).

Sea Temperature

Hydrological records from Maria Island dating back to 1944, indicate that the sea surface temperature has risen as a result of the increased strength and southern extension of the East Australian Current (Harris, Nilsson, Clementson and Thomas 1987). Analyses between 1944 and 1998 reveal that the sea temperature has increased by over 1oC (Crawford, Edgar and Cresswell 2000).


It is known that increasing average water temperatures in coastal regions will most likely affect aquaculture production (Tasmanian Climate Change Office, Department of Premier and Cabinet 2008). In particular, Tasmania's heavy reliance on the success of salmonid production will be of concern, since Atlantic salmon - which accounts for the majority of salmonid products - are already near their high temperature limit in southern Tasmania (Pittock B 2003).

The gross value of total fisheries production has grown 46.8% from 2004-05 to 2006-07, creating $475m for the Tasmanian economy in 2006-07. Between 2002-03 and 2006-07, farmed salmonid production increased by 130% ($154m) in value to $272m, accounting for 57% of Tasmania's gross value of fisheries production (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) 2008).

FISHERIES PRODUCTION, Gross value, Tasmania

Graph: Fisheries production, Gross value, Tasmania



In 2006-07, of those agricultural businesses which believed the climate affecting their holding had changed, the largest proportion that modified their management practices as a result was in the North West NRM region (74.1%), followed by the Northern region (72.8%) and the Southern region (69.6%). Overall, Tasmania has a lower proportion of agricultural businesses modifying practices (72.3%) than the national average (75.4%). In regard to the impact of climate change on their holding, Tasmanians most commonly reported decreased production and increased pest, weeds or disease occurrences.

Of those agricultural businesses which made modifications to their management practices, most (64.4%) changed the intensity of cropping and/or grazing, followed by modification of irrigation practices (47.8%), and time of planting and/or harvesting (32.3%). Less than a quarter (22.5%) modified the type or variety of commodity they produced.

Tasmania, 2006-07

Graph: Reported impact of climate change, Tasmania, 2006-07


Graph: Reported Modified Land Management Practices, Tasmania, 2006-07

Natural Resource Management (NRM)

Changes to a region's climate impact on its natural resources. NRM is the management of native vegetation, weed, pest, land, soil and water.

In 2006-07 the proportion of agricultural businesses in Tasmania reporting NRM related problems on their properties was 83.4%, which was lower than the national level (86.7%). Northern Tasmania showed a slightly higher proportion of agricultural businesses with NRM related problems (86.9%) than Southern Tasmania (86.3%), followed by the North West (77.6%).

65.5% of Tasmanian agricultural business reported barriers to improving NRM on their holding which was below the national level (71.0%).

The most commonly reported barrier to improving NRM on an agricultural holding across Australia was lack of financial resources. This was reported by 75.4% of Tasmanian agricultural businesses and 78.9% of all Australian agricultural businesses as one of the barriers.

BARRIERS TO IMPROVING NRM, Tasmania, By NRM region, 2006-07

Graph: Barriers to Improving NRM, Tasmania, by NRM region, 2006-07

In 2006-07, 63.4% of Tasmanian agricultural businesses reported improving NRM practices on their holding compared to 65.8% nationally. The most reported reason for improving NRM practices in Tasmania was farm sustainability (89.5%) followed closely by increased productivity (84.4%).

Of the 1.7 million hectares of agricultural land in Tasmania in 2006-07, 8.4% was set aside for conservation or protection purposes. Nationally, only 3.4% of Australia's 425 million hectares of agricultural land was set aside. However, 14.7% of Tasmanian agricultural properties took part in Landcare programs and 21.2% participated in some kind of conservation program in 2006-07.


Graph: Reasons for Improving NRM practices, 2006-07


Graph: Proportion of land set aside for conservation, 2006-07



Between 2001-02 and 2006-07, Tasmania's average annual growth in energy consumption was 5.1%, compared with 2.4% for Australia. Energy consumption growth for 2006-07 alone was 4.9% in Tasmania and 2.3% nationally (ABARE 2008a).

Tasmania's largest energy consumer in 1973-74 was manufacturing; consuming 30.3 petajoules (PJ) of the state's total 71.9 PJ consumed. This trend was the same nationally with manufacturing consuming 918.0 PJ of the total 2 615.2 PJ of all energy consumed (ABARE 2008b).

In 2006-07, manufacturing remained the largest consumer of energy in Tasmania, accounting for 47.2 PJ of the state's 125.9 PJ energy consumption. At a national level, electricity generation consumed the largest portion of all energy consumption, accounting for 1,694.9 PJ of the total 5,769.8 PJ (ABARE 2008b). This is largely explained by mainland Australia's current heavy reliance on the burning of coal for electricity generation.


Graph: Energy consumption, Tasmania

ENERGY CONSUMPTION, by industry, 2006-07

Graph: Energy Consumption, by industry, 2006-07

Between 2004-05 to 2029-30, Tasmania's primary energy consumption is projected to grow, on average, 0.8% annually and Australia's consumption is expected to grow 1.5% annually (Cuevas-Cubria and Riwoe, 2006).


Graph: Primary energy consumption projections, Tasmania

Australia, 2004-05 to 2029-30

Graph: Primary energy consumption projections, Australia, 2004-05 to 2029-30


Greenhouse gases are those constituents of the atmosphere that absorb and re-emit infra-red radiation (UN 1992).

State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories attempt to measure the amount of greenhouse gas (and their precursors) which is released into the atmosphere. In 2006, Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions totalled 8,547 gigagrams (Gg) of carbon dioxide equivalent which is approximately 1.5% of Australia's emissions total of 576,035Gg (Australian Government Department of Climate Change, 2008d).

Between 1990 and 2006, carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions in Tasmania decreased 25.2% while at a national level, emissions increased 4.2% over the same timeframe (Australian Government Department of Climate Change, 2008e).


Graph: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Tasmania


Graph: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Australia


American Geophysical Union:Hunter J, Coleman R and Pugh D, 2003, The Sea Level at Port Arthur, Tasmania, from 1941 to the Present, Geophysical Research Letters, 30(7), pp.54-1-4.

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE): Australian Energy: National and State Projections to 2029-30; Australian Energy Statistics: Energy Update 2008, Energy Consumption in Australia, by Industry [datacube]; Australian Fisheries Statistics; Energy Update 2005: Australian energy consumption and production, 1973-74 to 2003-04.

Antarctic Climate & Energy Cooperative Research Centre: Climate Futures for Tasmania: Fact Sheet.

Australian Government Department of Climate Change: State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2006; Australia's National Greenhouse Accounts.

Bureau of Meteorology (BoM): Tasmania in 2007: Very warm and rather dry.

Church JA, Gregory JM, Huybrechts P, Kuhn M, Lambeck K, Nhuan MT, Qin D and Woodworth PL 2001, 'Changes in Sea Level', in JT Houghton, Y Ding, DJ Griggs, M Noguer, PJ van der Linden, X Dai, K Maskell and CA Johnson (eds), Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 881.

Crawford CM, Edgar GJ and Cresswell G 2000, 'The Tasmanian Region', in C Shepherd and LP Zann (eds) Seas at the Millennium, Pergamon Press, Amsterdam, pp. 647-660.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Climate Change in Australia: Technical Report 2007.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, Agriculture and Food, National Review of Drought Policy, Climatic Assessment, Final Report, Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, An assessment of the impact of climate change on the nature and frequency of exceptional climatic events: Drought - exceptional circumstances, July 2008.

Environment Expenditure, Local Government, Australia, 2000-01 (ABS cat. no. 4611.0)

Environment Expenditure, Local Government, Australia, 2002-03 (ABS cat. no. 4611.0)

Garnaut Climate Change Review: Draft Report.

Harris GP, Nilsson C, Clementson L and Thomas D 1987, The water masses of the east coast of Tasmania: Seasonal and interannual variability and the influence on phytoplankton biomass and productivity, Australian Journal of Marine Freshwater Research, 38, pp. 569–590. CSIRO Publishing.

Hennessy K, Fawcett R, Kirono D, Mpelasoka F, Jones D, Bathols J, Whetton P, Stafford Smith M, Howden M, Mitchell C and Plummer N, 2008, An assessment of the impact of climate change on the nature and frequency of exceptional climatic events. Australian Government: CSIRO and BoM, Melbourne.

Hydro-electric Corporation, Hydro Tasmanian Annual Report 2002-03; Hydro Tasmanian Report 2006; Hydro Tasmanian Annual Report 2007.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Bates, B.C., Z.W. Kundzewicz, S. Wu, and J.P. Palutikof, Eds., Climate Change and Water. Technical Paper VI - June 2008.

Natural Resource Management on Australian Farms (ABS cat. no. 4620.0)

Pittock B (ed.) 2003, Climate Change: An Australian Guide to the Science and Potential Impacts, Australian Greenhouse Office, Canberra.

State of the Environment Tasmania: Case Study: Measuring Sea Level Rise at Port Arthur.

Tasmanian Climate Change Office, Department of Premier and Cabinet 2008, Tasmanian Framework for Action on Climate Change.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Article 1.

Water Account, Australia, 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4610.0)

Further information can also be found on the Environment and Energy Statistics Theme Page and the Agriculture Statistics Theme Page of the ABS website.