2017 John Milne Memorial Lecture
Australian rangeland systems science: living with climate change
Professor Mark Howden, ANU Climate Change Institute, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601
This lecture was given at the 19th Biennial Australian Rangeland Society Conference held in Pt Augusta during September, 2017.
Summary: The climate is changing and more change is in store. Projections of temperature change and CO2 increase are robust whilst rainfall changes remain uncertain (and in many locations increasingly uncertain over time) even in terms of direction. The response to CO2 increase in terms of plant growth and soil water relations is potentially large and positive but also uncertain. These changes will impact on almost all parts of rangeland systems including pasture and livestock production, feed budgeting and safe carrying capacity, fire, soil C, biomass C, heat stress and biodiversity. There is increasing focus on developing a practical and effective array of adaptation responses and these are the frontline approach to living with climate change. The evolution of science has been largely appropriate to help with this goal: moving from conceptual frameworks to quantitative analysis; from climate change impacts analyses to concrete adaptation and mitigation responses; from single-component studies to integrated responses.