Current emission pledges to the Paris Agreement appear insufficient to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Yet, details are missing on how to track progress towards the ‘Paris goal’, inform the five-yearly ‘global stocktake’, and increase the ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). We develop a nested structure of key indicators to track progress through time.

A major Australian government report published 25 years ago called for urgent investment in research on the impacts of climate change on human health. Since that report's release, less than 0.1% of Australian health funding has been allocated to this area. As the world continues on a high emissions pathway, the health impacts from climate change are increasing in size and complexity. While Australia has established leadership roles in climate science and health research, it must now link these two strengths.

Models and physical reasoning predict that extreme precipitation will increase in a warmer climate due to increased atmospheric humidity. Observational tests using regression analysis have reported a puzzling variety of apparent scaling rates including strong rates in midlatitude locations but weak or negative rates in the tropics. Here we analyse daily extreme precipitation events in several Australian cities to show that temporary local cooling associated with extreme events and associated synoptic conditions reduces these apparent scaling rates, especially in warmer climatic conditions.

The projected rise in food-related greenhouse gas emissions could seriously impede efforts to limit global warming to acceptable levels. Despite that, food production and consumption have long been excluded from climate policies, in part due to concerns about the potential impact on food security.

Environmental phenomena are often observed first, and then explained quantitatively. The complexity of processes, the range of scales involved, and the lack of first principles make it challenging to predict conditions beyond the ones observed.

The wintertime Arctic stratospheric polar vortex has weakened over the past three decades, and consequently cold surface air from high latitudes is now more likely to move into the middle latitudes. However, it is not known if the location of the polar vortex has also experienced a persistent change in response to Arctic climate change and whether any changes in the vortex position have implications for the climate system.

Understanding the causes of recent climatic trends and variability in the high-latitude Southern Hemisphere is hampered by a short instrumental record. Here, we analyse recent atmosphere, surface ocean and sea-ice observations in this region and assess their trends in the context of palaeoclimate records and climate model simulations. Over the 36-year satellite era, significant linear trends in annual mean sea-ice extent, surface temperature and sea-level pressure are superimposed on large interannual to decadal variability.

The majority of naturally occurring freshwater on small islands is groundwater, which is primarily recharged by precipitation. Recharge rates are therefore likely to be impacted by climate change. Freshwater resources on small islands are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they are limited in size and easily compromised. Here we have compiled available aquifer system characteristics and water-use data for 43 small island developing states distributed worldwide, based on local expert knowledge, publications and regional data sets.

Predicting the consequences of climate change for biodiversity is critical to conservation efforts. Extensive range losses have been predicted for thousands of individual species, but less is known about how climate change might impact whole clades and landscape-scale patterns of biodiversity. Here, we show that climate change scenarios imply significant changes in phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic endemism at a continental scale in Australia using the hyper-diverse clade of eucalypts.

The potential impact of global temperature change on global crop yield has recently been assessed with different methods. Here we show that grid-based and point-based simulations and statistical regressions (from historic records), without deliberate adaptation or CO2 fertilization effects, produce similar estimates of temperature impact on wheat yields at global and national scales. With a 1 °C global temperature increase, global wheat yield is projected to decline between 4.1% and 6.4%.