Melbourne’s exceptional heatwave and climate change: this ain’t the weather your grandparents knew

St.Kilda Beach in the 1930s: when life was simpler, and the planet cooler

St.Kilda Beach in the 1930s: when life was simpler, and the planet cooler*

Melbourne is famous for its extremes of weather. As the old Crowded House song so beautifully put it, to live in Melbourne is to experience Four Seasons in One Day

We’re accustomed to blistering summers and bone-chilling winters. Less familiar are blistering Autumns.

For those who didn’t know, Melbourne is in the midst of a record-breaking heat-wave that has seen the temperature stay above 30 degrees Celsius for eight days now.

Nor is there any relief in sight; according to the Bureau of Meteorology we can expect at least two more days and nights of extreme heat.

This will surpass the previous record of seven days set in February 1961.

The remarkable fact is that we’re officially in Autumn.

According to the Country Fire Authority (CFA), by Wednesday the entire state will be exposed to some risk of bush or grass fires. Areas marked blue denote areas of high fire danger, those coded yellow pertain to areas of very high fire danger:

CFA update

CFA update for Wednesday 13/3/2013

Without doubt we’re entering a new climate regime:

Future warming of the climate due to greenhouse gas emissions will very likely lead to further increases in the frequency of unusually hot days and nights and continued declines in unusually cold days and nights.

These changes will result in weather events which are increasingly beyond our prior experiences.

The climate denial crowd will try to tell you “It’s just weather!”

Or they’ll claim it was just as hot fifty, seventy or one hundred years ago. 

There may have been some hot days – but this heatwave ain’t nothing our grandparents, or our great-grand parents ever experienced.

The world has warmed during the last 150 years: the present heat wave is a harbinger of future extremes.

Welcome to the Anthropocene.


*Source: Museum of Victoria

Tagged , , , , ,

80 thoughts on “Melbourne’s exceptional heatwave and climate change: this ain’t the weather your grandparents knew

  1. takver says:

    Yes – the long term trend just keeps getting hotter. But we have had autumn heat waves before, they just weren’t as long. There was a particularly savage one back in March 1940: “Yesterday was the sixth day of Melbourne’s phenomenal autumn heat wave. The record length for a March heat wave is seven days, established in 1934, when the highest temperature was 103Fdeg. The maximum temperature record has been broken, and the record for duration will be equalled to-day.” reported the Argus.

    “Water consumption is reaching new records. In four days Melbourne has used 616,170,000 gallons, but the storage position is satisfactory.” continued the report.

    But we do have better refrigerated distribtion and storage, including fridges in households now a days. Back in 1940 “Salad vegetables were almost unobtainable in Melbourne and the suburbs yesterday afternoon.”

    You can read more at:

    Air-conditioners, refridgerated food storage have all been advances that help us to adapt. But these lengthy hot spells tend to catch the elderly unaware with greater chance of mortality due to increase in heart attacks, heat stress. These heatwaves will be at the lower end of normal by the end of the century, so our grandkids are going to do it much tougher, unfortunately.

  2. john byatt says:

    forecast 37C tomorrow , bit insane for March ?

  3. Skeptikal says:

    The climate denial crowd will try to tell you “It’s just weather!”

    That’s because it is just weather!

    Just like some unseasonal weather is affecting parts of the United States.

    “The snow-fall was unseasonal, even breaking some records. According to the National Weather Service, Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. blew past a previous daily record of .2 inches with a new one of 3.3 inches.”

    Unseasonal weather is just WEATHER!

    Post-normal science… weather IS climate, but only when we say it is.

    • Sou says:

      Skeptical is just another fake skeptic, failing the “check the facts” test. Otherwise he’d be pointing out that we’re getting a lot more ‘weather’ that reflects global warming than any other sort. (Including the increased intense precipitation of the sort he cites.)

      • Skeptikal says:

        Yes Sou,

        More rain is consistent with global warming
        Less rain is consistent with global warming
        More wind is consistent with global warming
        Less wind is consistent with global warming
        More droughts are consistent with global warming
        More floods are consistent with global warming
        Warm spells are consistent with global warming
        Cold spells are consistent with global warming
        My bus running late today is consistent with global warming…


        Activists making a fuss about a weather event is consistent with global warming.

      • Sou says:

        Skeptical, honestly, there is no need to provide even more evidence (your ‘weather’ list) that shows you don’t have a clue about global warming. You’ve already given us ample data.

      • Nick says:

        Yep,Skep all those things are “consistent with Global Warming”. Can you be a little more specific about why they wouldn’t be? What do get out of the public messaging and IPCC reports? Some other picture?

        After all,if you’d been following the issue,reading the reports or even their summaries,you’d know a little about the projections. Weather is not going to go away.

    • zoot says:

      … weather IS climate, but only when we say it is.

      Pretty much sums up Erric’s usual response of, “But in Bumcrack Alabama they had snow yesterday”.
      Now I’ll type this slowly and with the smallest words I can find: If the planet is warming this is the sort of weather to be expected. If the planet is not warming this type weather should occur less frequently. Go check how many record cold events there have been in the last few years compared to record hot events.

      • Skeptikal says:

        zoot says:

        Now I’ll type this slowly and with the smallest words I can find:

        Well done zoot, no spelling mistakes and your sentences are coherent.

        Your new style almost makes you look intelligent. 😉

      • zoot says:

        I don’t know if it’s your giant intellect or your sparkling wit which I find most lacking in you.

    • Skeptical – perhaps you’d care to employ the phrase “post-normal” according to its definition, Parroting deniar phrases just isn’t good enough.

    • Nick says:

      Skep,consider some observations about larger scale processes and how they filter down to week-to week weather

      In our regional context ,look at changes to the southern annular mode,and the well-observed trend in strengthening of high pressure systems crossing our area.

    • Nick says:

      More details on the NZ drought. Really useful background info.

  4. Eric Worrall says:

    Wow, the 1961 record will be beaten by one day – we’re doomed folks!

    • john byatt says:

      two days and “This will surpass the previous record of seven days set in February 1961”

      This is March

    • Dr No says:

      What- Me Worry?
      All these headlines make me sick.

      “Dog day afternoon as SE heatwave gives records the stick ”
      Toughen-up! Predicted global average temperature increase by the end of the century is only a lousy +3 degrees or thereabouts. I can cope with that, standing on one leg!

      “New Zealand North Island drought ‘most severe in history’ and costing the economy over $1billion”
      So what ?- no big deal – they are only cheap New Zealand dollars.

      “Unusual weather blamed for Eyre Peninsula fish deaths”.
      Big deal, I dont live there so who cares?

      “Australian heatwaves hit birdlife, wildlife hard”
      Bloody greenies trying to tell us that animals are more important than humans.

      Honestly, you lot are a bunch of cry-babies.
      Listen to Eric and Skeptical and you cant go wrong.

      • Moth says:


        Of course, you know the previous ice age was about 5 degrees cooler. Are you sure you could have dealt with that on one leg or do you just say nonsense to get attention for yourself?

      • Nick says:

        Moth,Dr N is being sarcastic

      • Dr No says:

        Moth, you and Nick are both correct.
        I admit to using sarcasm to get attention for myself.

        Maybe I have been affected by reading too many denialist contributions!

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Given that the world hasn’t warmed for 16 years, that +3c by the end of the century is looking more than a little iffy.

        And lets not forget, at the same time Australia experienced some hot weather, Russia, China, Europe and America are suffering an unusually cold and snowy winter – 5th in a row, and counting.

        So lets not get too excited about a 160 year weather record being broken by a smidgen.

      • Eric doesn’t learn. His type won’t be able to adapt to the new, warming, world. It’s just poetic justice.

      • zoot says:

        Why is it that every time Erric trots out “It hasn’t warmed for 16 years” I see Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper in the air?

      • Nick says:

        “Globe hasn’t warmed for 16 years”? Again? Add that up since Sunday and that’s about 160 years now. Change the record,will ya?

      • Snafu says:

        Yawn indeed Eric

        Met Office and Hadley Centre:

        Global average mean temperature.

        1997 – 14.37C
        2012 – 14.45C

        Catastrophic, Unprecedented Global Warming.

        Back OT. In 1935, Melbourne had 3 days in APRIL above 30C (5th, 6th & 7th)

        In 1940, Melbourne had 14 days over 30C in March, more than any other month of the year. 10 of those days were above 35C.

        You must remember Eric, that pre-1980 all periods/records of warm weather was just that, weather.

        Now it’s called Catastrophic, Unprecedented Global Warming (even if it’s just a localized event).

        • Debunker says:

          Jesus Christ!

          Not the old, it hasn’t warmed since 1997/1998 meme? Again? This has been debunked so often here Snafu, please try to keep up. It is a blatant cherry pick.

          Seriously, trying to educate you moronic deniers is like toilet training the family dog. You soil in the corner, we rub your nose in it and show you where to go to do it properly, but you keep on going back to crap in the same old corner again. Over and over and over again. Talk about dumb.

      • Nick says:

        Ah, Snafu’s a Bookerite….likes a dusting of white asbestos in the morning. How many corrections has Booker had to post again. I’ve lost count. And you’ve brought your ‘Catastrophic’ playword with you. The truncated vocabulary of the pseudo-skeptic.

        April 1935 had three hot days in a row,but the month itself was below the April mean. Most of the warmer Aprils have been in the second half of the record.

        March 1940 was very hot [warmest March on record] in Melbourne,as Takver pointed out at the top of the page. The longest continuous stretch above 30C then was seven days. This month’s continuous stretch has seen nine so far. Long duration heat records are being set in Australia at quite a rate lately. Not so localised,snaffy.

        Of the nine 95th percentile Marchs since 1856, five have occurred since 1985.
        Of the 17 90ths since 1856,eleven have been post 1950.

        Globes warming,fast in geological terms,but always too slowly for you strawmen Catastrophists. Instant gratification,on demand.

      • Nick says:

        Might not make 30C today,but look at the night time temperatures. Lowest it got before sunrise was 26.5C.

    • Nick says:

      There is as usual a vast informational void between your pointing out a record about to go and your sarcasm. Hopefully you know how to start filling it.

  5. Moth says:

    No – I fired off such a question to Chris Monckton’s tweeter and whoever looks after it replied that it was due to solar activity.

    It’s funny I’ve got climate “sceptic” family friends whom were challenging me about it all on the weekend. They were against the carbon “tax” (which doesn’t exist) and believed any warming that may have happened in recent years was due to natural variation (ie. climate always changes)… You know the lingo…

    Anyway, when I tried to explain it all – especially when I noted that what we’ll see (and are already seeing) is nights warming quicker than days due to less heat being able to escape. They totally agreed that Victorian nights have changed (and they’ve lived in the state for more than four decades). They said that, it didn’t used to matter how hot it was in the day, you could count on the nights to be cool, taking the edge off.

    This of course is no longer the case.

    Do you think anything of my conversation – even when they agreed with me – changed their minds on the subject? This is why the term “sceptic” fails to capture the situation.

    • Nick says:

      A lot of people are trying to hide their ignorance or indifference by identifying as ‘sceptical’. They don’t want to be seen as utterly disengaged.

    • Skeptikal says:

      Moth says:

      They were against the carbon “tax” (which doesn’t exist)

      Moth, what planet are you living on?

      • zoot says:

        Skep, what do quote marks imply?

      • Skeptikal says:

        zoot, in this case, I suspect they imply utter stupidity.

        Come on zoot, tell us all that the carbon “tax” doesn’t exist… I’d like to see you say that!

      • zoot says:

        You should sue whichever school you went to for the abysmal job they did in failing to teach you English (unless you were an ESL student, in which case they did a merely lousy job).

      • Skeptikal says:

        Awww zoot…..

        Moth needs your support here…. tell us all that the carbon “tax” doesn’t exist!

  6. john byatt says:

    Monckton in Austalia telling everyone that it has not warmed for 17 years, and then there are the heatwaves in March.making him look like the village idiot

  7. debunker says:

    Given that the world hasn’t warmed for 16 years – – says Eric.

    How many times are you goint to trot that tired old cherry out Eric?

    Only true if you start at one particular year last century. with any other year you get an upward slope. Get a grip Eric, it isn’t that difficult a concept to get your head around.
    (Mind you, for someone fooled by Watt’s yellow highlighter, maybe it is).

  8. eworrall1 says:

    Front left row of Monckton’s Brisbane presentation, about to start 🙂

    • Nick says:

      Try and be sceptical. Good luck.. Try and dodge the spittle,he gets rather carried away.

      • john byatt says:

        A denialist on another blog some years ago was excited about going to see Monckton.

        next morning he came on to say that he would not be commenting anymore as he had to think about what had happened at the monckton freak show,

      • Nick says:

        I wonder what Eric will make of the Agenda 21 paranoia? The Tea Party were whipping up fears of the closure of golf courses in Texas,as local government would be compelled to fall into line under the UNs iron dictates. !!.

        Lots of golf courses in SE Queensland….spooky!

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Fascinating talk.

        With regard to “dodging the spittle”, his style was very much dry British humour – he was laughing at alarmists more than anything.

        I don’t agree with his take on Agenda 21. Yes there is an Agenda 21, and I think its goals are incompatible with freedom, but I don’t think there is a centralised conspiracy, which seems to be what Monckton suggested. Instead I see it as an emergent behaviour – the sort of thing which crops up when anti-humanist former communists talk to each other.

        To give an analogy, I see Agenda 21 as being a bit like the way punchups are more likely when groups of drunk footy fans from rival clubs get together after a match – not because there is a centralised conspiracy to create more confrontation, but because shit like that happens when drunk angry people rub shoulders and shout insults.

        I don’t think he spent enough time on the economic side of climate change – he introduced advanced concepts such as discount factors, without enough explanation for what they are. I’m familiar with discount factors because of my work in banking, but I doubt most people in the audience knew what he was talking about at this stage in his speech.

        I did have a major point of disagreement with him – when someone asked him about why the world had lost its way (not me), he suggested there was something fundamentally wrong with any society which could sanction the murder of unborn babies. He also expressed concern that Muslims, who hold different views, were rapidly outbreeding westerners in their own countries.

        I disagree strongly with both views – I think that until the baby is born, its really down to the Mum whether she subjects her body to the risk and trauma of pregnancy. I also agree with Steve Levitt’s view that banning Mums from aborting unwanted kids leads to dangerously higher rates of crime.

        I also disagree with his views on Islam – I think it is a two way street, and my time in Istanbul, and conversations with friends who were born there, who are modern in every sense of the word, have convinced me that the Muslim world is undergoing a transformation as profound as the Christian Reformation. The Muslims of 30 years from now will be nothing like some of the screaming Mullah’s we see today.

        I think I was the only person in the room who put my hand up and admitted I didn’t agree with him on these issues.

        Afterwards I shook hands, and thanked him for his time – it was very friendly. I’d definitely attend another speech.

      • Nick says:

        Good for you,Eric,you avoided his hypnotic stare! The anti-Agenda 21 stuff is batshit insane,you can say it if you like. It’s a sleepy old non-binding resolution,and folk who get exercised about it -like Moncky- are either cynical or dim,or a bit of both. The world is full of ‘global governance-lite’ binding agreements already,some of them pretty sneaky. Monckton wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have global agreements.

        He can laugh at alarmists? Can he laugh at himself? Because he is a shrieking alarmist of the first order,as you witnessed!

        Did he fill the room?

      • Eric Worrall says:

        No, about half to 2/3 – difficult to tell because of a few empty seats scattered through the crowd.

        Still several hundred people – no bad for a Tuesday evening on a work night. I’ve tried arranging speakers and filling chairs, and its not easy – my biggest success was when I convinced Edwina Curry (she was in Prime Minister John Major’s cabinet) to be the speaker, as a thankyou for me helping one of her mates win an election. Then the room was full to the rafters.

        And I don’t agree that his interpretation of Agenda 21 is “batshit insane”. The people who wrote Agenda 21 are batshit insane, but I think Monckton is wrong about it being a centralised conspiracy.

        Hopefully Abbott will tear up a few of these agreement nasties, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • The acolytes assemble. Let us know if you see any white smoke. And do tell us just how big the global conspiracy is.

      • Nick says:

        Oh,it undoubtedly extends at least to the inner planets…the UN have been secretively doling out long space mining leases to third-world state-owned industrial conglomerates.

    • Debunker says:

      Well then, abandon any pretence of skepticality Eric. You are a denier, plain and simple. That man is an out and out nutter, and compulsive liar to boot. If he is your hero, then may God help you.

      The men in white coats and straight jackets await… 😀

  9. john byatt says:

    Thursday 14th March – Evening (7:00) Speaking at Reach out for Christ International Ministries 288 Gooding Drive, Carrara (RUAP sponsored event free entry). Contact Steve on 07 5579 9077 for details

    that is his creationist mates church rise up Australia

  10. john byatt says:

    They had to cancel tickets for suncorp stadium and announce tickets at the door irish club

  11. Tuesday’s update,

    Melbourne’s temperature ranged from a minimum of 24.1 degrees at 6:24am to a
    maximum of 36.2 degrees at 4:16pm. The minimum temperature has now exceeded 20
    degrees for six days in a row which equals the all time record for any month.
    This previously occurred from 16/1 to 21/1 1908 and from 29/1 to 3/2 2009. This
    brings the run of days over 30 degrees in Melbourne to 9, which is a new all
    time record for any month in Melbourne.

    Warmer nights.

  12. […] 2013/03/11: WtD: Melbourne’s exceptional heatwave and climate change: this ain’t the wea… […]

  13. Gavin Melles says:

    Hi there. We are screening thin ice
    See eventbrite

  14. Simon Thomson says:

    As it turns out, according to The Age and the Bureau of Meteorology:

    “The next four days will be the state’s hottest stretch of weather since January 2009. Melbourne is forecast to face four consecutive days of 40-degree-plus temperatures as tomorrow’s top has now been revised from 39 to 41. This streak will not break the record of five consecutive days set in January 1908, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

    So it is hot, but not as hot as what it was in 1908.

    Also, I am happy to admit that carbon dioxide emissions are increasing and this correlates with the average temperature of the earth and that this should be stopped, but I don’t see how anyone can draw a direct causal link or correlation between 4 hot days in a row and climate change or carbon dioxide emissions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: