Category Archives: #BigAussieHeat

More thread: let’s talk climate politics down under

Sorry guys, but personal matters keep me from blogging. so more thread for discussion. Let’s talk about the state of politics in Australia. Some food for thought:

Clive Hamilton has a great essay on The Conversation on why Australia’s politicians have turned their backs on the climate change issue:

The truth is the Australian public does not know what it wants its government to do on climate change. A large majority wants it to do something, but the government seems to lose support whenever it does anything. The only notable exception (and perhaps because many people don’t know it exists) is the Renewable Energy Target, first introduced by the Howard Government as a sop to public anxiety. For any political leader unwilling to exercise leadership on the issue, trying to respond to climate change leaves them uncertain which way to turn

Which is all the more interesting as Australia has experienced it’s hottest 12 month period:

It’s official, the past 12 months have been the hottest in Australia for more than a hundred years. Temperatures averaged across Australia between September 2012 and August 2013 were hotter than any year since good records began in 1910. The previous record was held by the 12-month period from February 2005 to January 2006.

While Tony Abbott has stated he will abandon emissions targets:

Amid its bitter campaign against the carbon price the Coalition has  maintained one significant foundation – ”we may hate the method, but we will  achieve the same outcome”.

That outcome is at least a 5 per cent cut to emissions by decade’s end on  2000 levels, and more ambitious reductions if the world takes actions to curb  climate change. These targets have enjoyed bipartisan support for about five  years.

But in his National Press Club address on Monday, Tony Abbott has cast doubt  on his commitment to these goals. And he has lifted the lid on one of the  fundamental risks of his ”direct action” alternative to an emissions trading  scheme.

Abbott told the audience the Coalition would not increase its spending on  cutting carbon dioxide under direct action, even if its efforts were going to  fall short of what is needed to meet the 2020 target.

”The bottom line is we will spend as much as we have budgeted, no more and  no less. We will get as much environmental improvement, as much emissions  reduction as we can for the spending that we’ve budgeted,” he said.

Such is the state of politics down under.

I’ll be honest, not having to take an active part in the debate the moment is a blessing.

Note: remember to keep the debate friendly, I’ll be watching comments closely.

Melbourne’s warmest July on record: 10c above the average, follows Angry Summer and Autumn heatwave

Melbournians are used to experiencing “Four seasons in one day” – when the weather swings from brilliant clear skies, to storms and back again. But yesterday was unusual in that we recorded our highest July temperature on record:

It’s official – Melbourne has experienced its warmest-ever July day – but the summery burst was shortlived with storms hitting the city.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Scott Williams said it was an extraordinary day in Melbourne.

“It was our hottest ever July day at 23.3 degrees (at 2.02pm) – 10 degrees above the July average.”

Everyone was talking about the “early summer” and “how unusual” the heat was.

This comes the same year of the Angry Summer, when the entire continent experienced a record breaking heat heatwave.

Unknown to many, and less dramatic, was the prolonged Autumn heatwave that covered most of Southern Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology Special Climate Statement No.45 details these exceptional conditions:

A prolonged heatwave affected southeast Australia between 2 and 13 March 2013, breaking numerous records, especially for the duration of persistent hot days and nights. The event followed Australia’s hottest month on record in January, and warmest summer on record from December 2012 to February 2013 (see Special Climate Statement 43).

The oceans surrounding Australia were similarly exceptionally warm, with sea surface temperatures also posting their hottest month on record in February, and warmest summer on record. The six months from September 2012 have been characterised by significant heatwaves and record temperatures for the entire Australian region. This heat has continued into March over a very large area of the country. 

Hottest summer; an Autumn heatwave and the a winter’s day that felt like early summer.

Welcome to the new normal.

More angry, more often: March heatwave signals a new normal

From The Conversation, more on Australia’s record breaking “Angry” summer: enjoy! 

By Sophie Lewis, University of Melbourne and Sarah Perkins

Daylight hours are dwindling and our first month of autumn is ending. But in many places, March felt a lot like summer. Get used to it: looking ahead, all indications are that future summers could be just like this one, or more extreme.

Southeast Australia welcomed autumn with a persistent heat wave. For the first 12 days of autumn, temperatures were 6.9 degrees above normal across Tasmania and 6.8 degrees above normal in Victoria.

Melbourne’s March record-breaking weather included nine days of temperatures of 32 degrees or above and its hottest overnight March temperature in 110 years of record keeping. Adelaide experienced ten such hot days.

The unusually warm autumn weather was part of a much larger and much longer warm spell. The last six months have been characterised by sequences of heat waves and record temperatures across the entire Australian region.

Summer was the hottest on record across all of Australia. In January, Australia had its hottest month on record. The hottest day ever recorded for the entire continent occurred on January 7.

The surrounding oceans, from the Great Australian Bight through Bass Strait, also broke previous extreme temperature records. These waters exhibited the hottest sea surface temperatures on record in February.

Our exceptionally hot summer cannot be discussed simply as a catalogue of interesting record-breaking events. This summer was not normal. And we can’t talk about the exceptionally hot summer and early autumn without talking about climate change.

Australian average temperatures have increased faster than the global average increase (0.8°C) and are now 0.9 degrees warmer than a century ago.

It may not sound like much, but research shows that changes in average temperatures (even less than 1°C) can lead to huge changes in the frequency and severity of extreme climate events.

This is exactly what Australia just experienced with this sequence of heat waves, extending from November 2012 to March 2013.

Our recent research in the internationally peer-reviewed Journal of Climate shows that there has been a significant increase in the number of heat wave days for most of the country from 1951-2008. The paper describes heat waves as a period of three or more days where temperatures are excessively hot – in the top five to 10% of temperatures recorded.

This trend is greatest in eastern Australia, where both the number of heat waves and their duration has increased.

Recently, we extended the time period of the analyses to include the period from 1911 to 2011. Not surprisingly, our initial results suggest that heat waves are now occurring earlier than 100 years ago. In some places, the first heat wave of the season is occurring almost a month earlier.

Recent studies from other parts of the world have shown that many, if not most, of the recent record-breaking heat waves and extremely warm summers would have been unlikely to occur without human influence on climate change.

Although we can never say categorically whether an individual climate event, such as a heat wave, would have occurred without human-related greenhouse gas emissions, it is possible to assess how global warming has changed the likelihood of extreme events occurring.

Working with other climate scientists we investigated the probability of extreme summer heat occurring across Australia using a suite of climate model simulations representing current climate conditions. We then used a parallel suite of control experiments, in which greenhouse gases from human activities were entirely absent.

Previous studies using similar methods have found strong human contributions to the severity of extreme summer temperatures. James Hansen and other NASA scientists found a 10-fold increase in areas experiencing extremely hot summers due to global warming. Similarly, climate scientist Gareth Jones and his colleagues at the UK Met Office Hadley Centre found a dominant human influence on rapidly increasing hot summers in the Northern Hemisphere.

When we ran our hot, angry summer through a large group of the latest generation of climate models it became clear that there was likely to have been a substantial human influence on our recent extreme summer heat. Our early results indicate that anthropogenic climate change more than tripled the risk of Australia’s extremely hot summer occurring.

As for the future, it is now virtually certain that the frequency and severity of hot days will increase. Extremely hot seasons will worsen, with the biggest impacts of climate change being felt by Australians in summer. Spring weather will come earlier, and autumn later.

Additional global warming over the next 50 years, under a business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions scenario, is expected to see global average temperatures increase by at least 1°C. Such a change means that our recent summer on steroids will become the norm and far worse summers will occur with greater frequency.

We already know what is causing the changes we see now. Clearly, it is time to stop talking about record-breaking heat as isolated incidents and recognise them in the context of climate change.

It’s time to start preparing for more angry summers, more frequently.

Sophie Lewis receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

Sarah Perkins is a research associate at the UNSW node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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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

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Australia’s record breaking heatwave: summer of 2012-2013 hottest on record

According to the Karl Braganza and Blair Trewin of BOM and we have just experienced the hottest summer on Record:

This summer hasn’t just felt hot. It’s been hot. In fact, the summer of 2012-13 is now the hottest on record. Average temperatures beat the record set in the summer of 1997-98, and daytime maximum temperatures knocked over the 1982-83 record. January 2013 has been the hottest month since records began in 1910.

Nor is it just Australia, as reported in The Age. What we are seeing is the effects of a warming planet:

Australia was not alone in feeling the heat over the past three months, with large regions of southern Africa and South America registering well-above normal temperatures. Land areas had their hottest January and February months.

‘‘There’s a pretty good chance it will turn out to be the hottest summer on record for the southern hemisphere as a whole,’’ Dr Trewin said.

Tony Mohr, climate change program manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the warming planet is making “Australia’s already extreme weather more extreme and more unsafe”.

“If this doesn’t wake up our politicians to the need for concrete action to prevent this ongoing acceleration in global warming, I’m not sure what will.”

Image of the day: Cyclone Rusty hitting WA

Source: NASA

Sydney temperature record smashed: 45.7c

Prior to today the highest recorded temperature for Sydney was 45.3.

That record fell a little before 3pm today, the temperature reaching 45.7c.

 

 

Sydney hits 45c: breaks the 1790 “record” claimed by LNP sceptic Craig Kelly

A_Sydney_44c

Remember LNP member Craig Kelly foolishly claimed on “sceptic” blog Watts up with that that Australia’s record-breaking temperature was not an anomaly? According to Kelly things were hotter back in 1790s:

It’s been a scorcher. With the mercury soaring to 42.3 C in Sydney last week and the city in meltdown, the papers screamed, “This is climate change. It is here. It is real.” Even the taxpayer-funded Climate Commission could not hide their excitement declaring, “it was hotter than before” and that “climate change” was responsible for the “unprecedented” extreme heat Sydneysiders were experiencing… 

For while the mercury peaked at 42.3 C last Tuesday at Observatory Hill in Sydney – more than 222 years ago at 1.00pm on the 27th Dec 1790 (measured at a location just stones-throw from Observatory Hill) the mercury hit 108.5 F (42.5 C) before peaking at 109 F (42.8 C) at 2.20pm. 

Craig – Sydney just hit 44.9c (oops correction its passed 45c).

Heat records are being broken today. The highest recorded temperature for Sydney was actually January 14 1939 when the mercury reached 45.3 at the Observatory Hill station. We’ve just seen the second highest recorded temperature for Sydney.

One hope’s Craig will do a follow-up post for Watts up with that – I’m sure it would make interesting reading.

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