Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Australia Blasted by Record Heat — Again


By John Upton
Oct. 27, 2014

Strange early-season temperatures again dogged sweaty Australians over the weekend, with Saturday’s continent-wide average maximum topping 97°F — a record for October.

Spring heat waves that have been baking the continent in recent weeks are “consistent” with the modeled effects of global warming in Australia, said Tom Knutson, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate modeler.

But global warming alone couldn’t explain the unseasonably hot weather. It’s likely that climate change has juiced natural heat waves, raising their temperatures and worsening their effects, Knutson said. [Nothing different from what climate scientists have been saying.]

Knutson led research, published a month ago in the annual extreme-weather issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, that found human-caused global warming contributed about 1.5°F to Australia’s unusual temperatures in 2013. That was in addition to 1.2°F of additional heat, over and above typical temperatures, that was produced by natural variability. [In other words, global warming contributed more than normal variation to that heat wave.]

Together, greenhouse gases and natural fluctuations created a scorching hot year Down Under that left previous records in its dust. The temperatures were so high last year that the Australian government was forced to develop new colors for its weather maps.

While Knutson hasn’t conducted any modeling to try to explain the most recent bouts of extreme Australian heat, he says a similar contribution from anthropogenic warming was likely, combined with a larger contribution from natural variability.

“For the recent event,” Knutson says, “the contribution from natural internal variability I'm sure is much greater than the anthropogenic contribution.”




by Katie Valentine Posted on October 27, 2014

On Saturday, Australia’s average high temperature of 97.5°F broke the record for the hottest October [equivalent to April north of the equator] day since record-keeping began in 1910. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, this weekend’s heat wave set records for daily high temperatures at 20 stations throughout the country. The town of St. George reached a high of 108.6°F on Sunday, and the suburbs surrounding Ipswich and Brisbane hit 106°F.

A spokesman from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology told the Sydney Morning Herald that the heat wave was significant not just for its high temperatures, but for its duration. Wanaaring, Australia set a record of eight days of 95°F temperatures, a stretch of time that beats the town’s previous record of seven days in 1997. Broken Hill, Australia also experienced a longer stretch of October heat than usual: five days of 95°F or higher weather, up from the town’s previous October record of three days in a row.

“These are all occurring generally about a week early and the extent is longer than observed before,” he said.


Australia’s Climate Council, a privately-funded group that works to quantify the impacts climate change is already having in the country, issued a report this year that found that eight of the country’s hottest summers in history have occurred in the past 15 years. That heat has helped make the country’s bushfire season longer and more intense — an effect similar to climate change’s impact on the U.S.’s wildfire season.

Despite this extreme heat, however, Australia’s federal leadership has done little to address the threat of climate change. Instead, the country has cut funding for key climate groups and initiatives since [conservative] Prime Minister Tony Abbott took office in 2013. Abbott’s administration eliminated Australia’s Climate Commission, an independent panel of experts which used to receive government funding to study the impacts of climate change (the group got enough private funding to come back as the Climate Council, and continues to publish). This month, Abbott’s administration also proposed to cut the country’s renewable energy target, a cut that the BBC reports is likely to hit Australia’s renewable energy companies.

No comments:

Post a Comment