Climate shift, not change

THE Murray basin is experiencing a climate shift, but not a climate change, according to our leading irrigation expert.

Shahbaz Khan, professor of hydrology at Charles Sturt University, said it was a crucial distinction and that the current drought sequence was very similar to the Federation drought of 1895-1902.

“It is not a climate change, it is a climate shift – that is completely different,” he said.
“Australia is not a country of climate change, it is a country of climate shifts. My feeling is we are into a major shift here.” The difference was that a shift was part of a historical weather cycle.

Professor Khan, also a key irrigation researcher at the CSIRO, said a significant difference between the Federation drought and this one was the greatly increased use of irrigation.
“We were not using as much water then so the impact now is much bigger,” he said. “Most engineering designs of irrigation schemes, dams, canals, they are based on averages. Averages don’t work any more.”

Read the rest of this article by Asa Wahlquist in today’s online edition of The Australian newspaper.