Climate change threatens Australia's alpine snowfall

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Climate change will result in decrease of snowfall in Australian Alps by 2050, and is putting at risk alpine water that is worth close to 9.8 billion U.S. dollars a year to the Australian economy, latest report showed on Monday.

The report was commissioned by the Federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Releasing the report, federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet on Monday warned the Australian Alps, reaching from Victoria to New South Wales and the Australia Capital Territory, are extremely vulnerable to rising global temperatures.

The report estimates the average 9600 gigaliters of water generated by the Australian Alps catchments are worth as much as 9. 8 billion U.S. dollars a year to the national economy. The water also represents close to 30 percent of annual inflows into the Murray-Darling Basin, helping to support around 2.1 million Australians.

The report predicts average temperatures will rise by between 0. 6 degrees Celsius and 2.9 degrees by 2050, and overall precipitation will fall by up to 24 percent by 2050, with lower humidity, less snow cover, changed river flows and more frequent and hotter bushfires.

"The worst-case scenario is certainly a loss of any snow cover or any snowfall, a change in precipitation, and that rainfall occurring as high intensity summer rainfall events," the study's co-author Roger Good said in the report.

Tony Moore from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the estimated 24 percent reduction in precipitation would have a devastating effect on alpine communities.

"We really should be monitoring Australia's very special places like this more frequently, particularly as there is a diverse range of threats to these environments now," he said.

The report came two days before parliament's lower house is expected to approve the government's carbon tax package, which targets to cut down carbon emission.

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