A new study from the University of NSW has found that, for the grassland region of South-East Queensland, the average temperature has declined by a degree Celsius since 1951, with the northern plains of the state experiencing a slight cooling trend.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, analysed data from the National Climate and Atmosphere Network (NCAN) satellite and showed that the average surface temperature of South Australian grassland, which covers about 13 per cent of the total area of the State, has fallen by about 0.4 degrees Celsius since the late 1950s.
It is also the only grassland in the state where the average annual temperature has increased since the 1970s, according to the report.
“There are some areas that are actually cooler,” Dr Matt Johnson, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University, told ABC News.
“You get a little bit of a cooling in some areas, but there are other areas that have a little more warming.”
The researchers used satellite imagery from the NCAN network to measure how much land area was covered by grassland at different times over the past century.
In addition to a number of temperature anomalies, they used a climate model to project the state’s temperature and precipitation to the future.
Dr Johnson said it was possible that the state was warming faster than expected.
“We do have a slight uptick in the average [temperature] trend since the 1950s, which is very unusual,” he said.
“But in general it has not changed significantly.”
The report found that grassland areas of the southern and northern plains, which cover a greater portion of South South Australia, are likely to experience the greatest cooling trend over the coming decades.
“The northern plains and the southern plains are much more likely to see significant cooling than the grasses,” Dr Johnson explained.
“In the Northern Plains it’s only about one degree [Celsius] warming, so that’s probably a bit lower than average.”
Dr Johnson also noted that there are many more areas of grassland that have not been included in the analysis.
“They are going to have a cooling effect because they are not covered by vegetation at the time,” he explained.
Dr Matthew Johnson, who is the lead author of the paper, said the study is important because it will allow researchers to monitor the climate change impact of increasing greenhouse gas emissions on grasslands.
Dr Smith said it would also help the state better understand how grasslands were affected by changing weather patterns.
“It will be very important to understand what the climate is like over the longer term,” Dr Smith added.
The research also revealed some surprising trends in the region. “
This research can give us a better understanding of what the future climate will be like, because it can provide information about the potential impacts that are going on in grasslands.”
The research also revealed some surprising trends in the region.
“Our results show that there is a slight decrease in temperature in the northern parts of the grassy area of South East Queensland, but the south-western part of the region shows an increase in the same time period,” Dr Brown said.
The scientists have already identified areas of increased rainfall in the southern parts of South West Queensland, while in the Northern Highlands there was also an increase.
Dr Brown also said the changes could be linked to the state building its Great Barrier Reef Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“These areas have more vegetation and we know that they get more rainfall,” he added.