Climate change update for the Pacific

Climate change update for the Pacific

The latest information about climate change for 14 Pacific countries and Timor-Leste is available in a set of technical reports produced by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

These reports describe observed and projected climate changes for:

A digital digest is also available to accompany the above reports. The digest contains user-friendly cards, designed to support the Pacific delegation attending COP26 in Glasgow. Please download the digest from here to view on your device.

Key messages

  • Temperatures have increased, sea level has risen, and cyclones have become less frequent but more intense.
  • Observed rainfall trends are not significant due to large natural variability driven by the El Niño Southern Oscillation.
  • Further warming is projected, reaching around 0.7°C by 2030, relative to 1986-2005, regardless of the greenhouse gas emission scenario. By 2050, the warming is around 0.8°C for a low emission scenario (RCP2.6) and around 1.5°C for a high emission scenario (RCP8.5). By 2070, it’s around 0.8°C (RCP2.6) to 2.2°C (RCP8.5).
  • Future rainfall changes have large uncertainty. The central estimate of projected changes is close to zero percent in countries south of latitude 10°S, with increases between latitudes 10°S and 10°N.
  • Sea level will continue to rise. By 2030, the increase is about 0.09 to 0.18 metres, relative to 1986-2005, regardless of the greenhouse gas emission scenario. By 2050, the increase is around 0.17-0.30 metres for a low emission scenario (RCP2.6) and around 0.20 to 0.36 metres for a high emission scenario (RCP8.5). By 2070, it’s around 0.24 to 0.43 metres for RCP2.6 and 0.33 to 0.63 metres (RCP8.5).  
  • Heavy rainfall intensity will increase.
  • Fewer tropical cyclones are projected, but their average intensity could change by -5 to +10% for a 2oC global warming.
  • The projected increase in average cyclone intensity, combined with sea level rise and increased heavy rainfall intensity would increase cyclone impacts.