AUSTRALIA's two leading scientific agencies will release a report today showing Australia has warmed significantly over the past 50 years, and stating categorically that ''climate change is real''.
The State of the Climate snapshot, drawn together by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology partly in response to recent attacks on the science underpinning climate change, shows that Australia's mean temperature has increased 0.7 degrees since 1960. The statement also finds average daily maximum temperatures have increased every decade for the past 50 years.
The report states that temperature observations, among others indicators, ''clearly demonstrate climate change is real'', and says that CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology ''will continue to provide observations and research so Australia's responses are underpinned by clear empirical data''.
The report also found that the 2000s were Australia's warmest decade on record; that sea levels rose between 1.5 and three millimetres a year in Australia's south and east, and between seven and 10 millimetres in the north between 1993 and 2009; and that sea surface temperatures have risen 0.4 degrees since 1960.
The release of the report comes as many Australian scientists have expressed angst at current attacks on the science underpinning the argument that global warming is man-made. They fear it is damaging the reputation of science as a whole.
Former Australia of the Year and long-time climate campaigner Tim Flannery last month urged climate scientists to talk to the ''confused Australian public'' and answer their questions about the science.
Bureau of Meteorology director Dr Greg Ayres told The Age the purpose of today's snapshot was to remind Australians that the bureau had been collecting objective and observable climate information for a century.
''I would like to invite the Australian public to use… the information generated in the national interest to reach an opinion on climate change because it is objective information,'' he said.
Dr Ayers said the trends in temperatures backed up UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings showing human processes, such as burning fossil fuels, was the main cause of global warming.
The IPCC's findings have recently been criticised because of errors found in the panel's landmark fourth assessment report, including an unsubstantiated claim the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.
The UN has now invited the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues to perform an independent review of the IPCC's work. the panel will report back in August.
CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark said yesterday that while society would debate the science underpinning climate change - much like previous debates about the link between smoking and lung cancer - CSIRO's role was to release ''unemotional'' scientific data.