Each spring for thousands of years, tens of millions of bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) have migrated more than 1,000 kilometres from their breeding grounds in southern Queensland, north and the western slopes of New South Wales, and Victoria, to caves in the Australian Alps.
The Climate Council have released a report called This is What Climate Change Looks Like (available here). It has lots of good, albeit depressing, information about how climate change is already impacting on natural environments across the continent, including mountain environments.
Mountain Journal has covered these issues before – increased fire risk to Gondwanic remnant vegetation in Tasmania, threats to iconic species like the Mountain Pygmy Possum and loss of snowpack, but this is a succinct collection of stories about impacts on wild nature in Australia.
The report notes that ‘droughts, ‘dry’ lightning strikes and heatwaves are transforming many Australian forests’ including the alpine ash and snowgum forests that we know and love.
Evidence about the impact of climate change on our country’s distinct flora and fauna is beginning to emerge. This is not ‘new’ news, this information is already widely available if you care to look for it. What is astonishing is that this growing body of information about the impacts of climate change on the land where we live doesn’t seem to compel more people to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are some recent examples of how climate change enhanced fire seasons are impacting on mountain environments:
In Tasmania, research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000 and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.
As temperatures rise and the world’s climate rapidly changes, many plants and animals may not be able to relocate fast enough on their own, and habitats and species could be lost. In Australia warmer temperatures are expected to increase the length and severity of bushfire seasons, which will also cause changes in the distribution of many mountain species.
Now, a new article from Professor Ary Hoffmann, Nicholas Bell and Dr James Camac, at the University of Melbourne, looking at how we monitor the impacts of climate change on Australia’s terrestrial ecosystems has additional concerning news.
The Mountain Pygmy Possum is on the endangered list and it lives here…
Come visit us at Falls Creek Cross Country and learn about the mountain pygmy possum and its vulnerabilities. And learn what you can do to help. We are offering FREE XC ski hire and $1 coffees for those who bring their own cup.
FALLS CREEK CROSS COUNTRY, located above the Windy Corner carpark.