First, a word about the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s position on climate change, heat, and fires. It has been suggested (by a commenter here) that the BoM is claiming that the current heat wave is not related to climate change, but rather, a matter of natural variability and a late arriving monsoon. But that is not true. The BoM has a different take on the current situation. From Ben Cubby, an Australian journalist:

The heatwave that has scorched the nation since Christmas is a taste of things to come, with this week’s records set to tumble again and again in the coming years, climate scientists said.

The hottest average maximum temperature ever recorded across Australia – 40.33 degrees, set on Monday – may only stand for 24 hours and be eclipsed when all of Tuesday’s readings come in. Previously, that record had stood since December 21, 1972.

‘‘The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is now unprecedented in our records,’’ the Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction, David Jones, said.

‘‘Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.’’

Read the rest of that report here.

Jones goes on to say that record-breaking temperatures will become more common in years to come, owing to global warming, though of course there will still be ups and downs because natural variation will be riding on top of a warming temperature baseline. He also notes that the changes in weather and effects on agriculture, water availability and general human health are playing out pretty much as predicted by scientists in numerous studies over the last several years. The article by Cubby also goes on to say that 2013 may end up being the hottest year on record.

It is interesting to note that Australian meteorologists have been forced to add a new color to their weather maps in order to depict the extremely warm temperatures. (The image at the top of this post uses the new color, or as they say in Australia, “colour.”

Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground notes in a recent blog post:

The high temperature averaged over Australia was 105°F (40.3°C), eclipsing the previous record of 104°F (40.2°C) set on 21 December 1972. Never before in 103 years of record keeping has a heat wave this intense, wide-spread, and long-lasting affected Australia. The nation’s average high temperature exceeded 102°F (39°C) for five consecutive days January 2 – 6, 2013–the first time that has happened since record keeping began in 1910.

Naturally, as with anything that happens in Australia or America, the heat wave is causing an international incident. Get Energy Smart Now notes:

Some might say that those ‘Down Under’ have a competitive streak with Americans — great allies but truly ecstatic when an Aussie beats an American at the Olympics. At times, however, competition can go too far. And, such is the case with the #BigAussieHeat. After the United States set massive numbers of high temperature records in 2012 … it seems that Australia is on the path to top America’s nightmarish heat wave conditions with environmental conditions.

Next thing you know the’ll be trying for the America’s Cup again!

And now, from this report, a video on Bush Fires in Tasmania:



And, rescuing a Koala:



Anthropogenic global warming: It’s real, and it is impacting us now.

________________________________________

Thanks to Stephan Lewandowsky, who has been providing me with very useful information about the situation down under, where he and his family are sweltering.

More on Climate Change Here.

Comments

  1. #1 Takver
    Melbourne, Australia
    January 8, 2013

    It is true the Bureau of Meteorology has updated it’s temperature scale to extend it to 54 degrees C. However, the image used as the leadin was an early prediction, which is no longer valid according to data on the BoM website. It made for a great story though with that big blotch of purple over South Australia.
    The image was from the BoM Interactive Weather and Wave Forecasts Maps page http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/viewer/index.shtml?type=T&level=2m&tz=AEDT&area=Au&model=CG&chartSubmit=Refresh+View

    Actually, the late arrival of summer monsoon may have some bearing on the extent of the heatwave. Checkout the extensive quote from John Nairn, South Australia’s Acting Regional Director for the Bureau of Meteorology,

    “Low antecedent rainfalls across much of the continent (see figure above) along with the late arrival of the Australian monsoon have resulted in drier soils. Without the ability to remove latent heat through evaporation from moist soils, surface temperatures rise above normal, with the daily heating cycle building a deeper body of stagnating hot air over the interior.

    “Breaking the heatwave cycle will require a combination of the onset of the rain bearing monsoon trough and the penetration of cooler Southern Ocean air masses. Severe heatwave conditions across the interior of Australia are set to continue for a while yet.”

    There is also a video of John Nairn along with this quote at my blog post:
    http://takvera.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/extreme-heatwave-for-australia-january.html

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2013

    Takver, yes, that map is actually of the expected temperature a few days from now. I chose it because it looked good in wide cropping which works well as a “featured image” on a wordpress blog, and it uses the new color.

    Let’s be clear about the monsoon. There are those claiming that the reason it is hot in Australia is not because of climate change, but because of a delayed monsoon. That is not true. That the delayed monsoon is a factor isn’t really relevant to the fact that there is a denialist position that is making up a story for people who don’t want to believe in global warming to hold on to.

    No one is saying that the monsoon, or natural variation in climate, are not factors.

  3. #3 AussieBoy
    Melbourne
    January 8, 2013

    Greg, I’m sorry but you’re spinning the facts and only telling half of them.

    In BOM’s 2012 yearly statement they released a couple days before the worst of the heatwave started they state that due to the near El Nino ENSO conditions over the last six months Australia saw higher than average temps and drier conditions. THIS IS NORMAL for positive ENSO conditions. Coupled with a higher than average Indian Ocean (which was heated up by the double-La Nino the preceding years) both the east and west of Australia dried up. Again, THIS IS NORMAL for those conditions.

    Now we have a delayed monsoon (which BOM states runs from November 1) which hasn’t started yet. So it’s two months late. The lack of tropical cyclones, which pull the monsoon down over Australia, as well as the lack of Antarctic lows from the Southern Ocean, have combined to keep Australia from venting built up heat.

    It’s a combination of bad lack.
    1. Near El Nino conditions heat and dry the east.
    2. A warm Indian Ocean (caused by the double La Nino) heat and dry the west.
    3. The lack of tropical cyclones pulling the monsoon down (note it still hasn’t started two months after the start of monsoon season) stops the north and centre of the continent from venting heat.
    4. The lack of Southern Ocean lows stops the south of the continent from venting heat.

    Bad luck is NOT AGW.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 8, 2013

    AussieBoy, I get that you are a Climate Science denialist. Frankly, these days, given what is happening globally, that makes you a bad person. Do you have kids? I do. I would strongly prefer that you stop contributing to making the world in which they will grow up more difficult than it has to be.

    What you are saying is wrong, what you are doing is wrong, and I need to inform you that science denialists are not welcome here.

    You are dismissed, sir.

  5. #5 adelady
    city of wine and roses
    January 8, 2013

    Bad luck for us Aussies with heat. Funny that it follows a mere coupla years after that other ‘bad luck’ of gigantic flooding. It doesn’t really look like ‘bad luck’ that Lake Eyre managed to fill a few years in a row. The fact that nobody remembers it happening more than 2 years in a row is just … luck? Perhaps that’s just odd.

    It was also just an oddity that Adelaide had its recordbreaking 15 consecutive days over 35C heatwave just one year before Melbourne and its surroundings had a shorter heatwave with Australia’s worst ever bushfires.

    But that’s all just …. odd.

  6. #6 mandas
    January 8, 2013

    You have to wonder about the cognitive dissonance of a denier like Aussieboy who thinks that it is normal to break records and to experience the hottest days in recorded history. I guess the word ‘unprecedented’ is beyond the capacity of deniers to understand.

    Perhaps he might like to check what the BOM is saying – if he thinks that only half the story is being told here. He might try these on for size:

    For September to December (i.e. the last four months of 2012) the average Australian maximum temperature was the highest on record with a national anomaly of +1.61 °C, slightly ahead of the previous record of 1.60 °C set in 2002 (national records go back to 1910).”

    “Australia set a new record for the highest national area-average temperature, recording 40.33 °C”

    “To date (data up to the 7 January 2013) the national area-average for each of the first 7 days of 2013 has been
    in the top 20 hottest days on record, with 6 January the fifth hottest on record and the first time 6 consecutive days over 39 °C has ever been recorded for Australia.”

    (http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/statements/scs43a.pdf)

    Perhaps Aussieboy would like to explain what is ‘normal’ about that.

  7. #7 adelady
    city of wine and roses
    January 9, 2013

    Perhaps it’s one of those numbersy statisticky things. Do a lot of people think that the longer a time record continues the more likely there is to be a new record set? Like time between seismic or volcanic events? It doesn’t work that way for weather.

    For those who’ve not yet worked it out for themselves …. in a stable climate with variable seasonal influences, the great majority of both cold and hot records will cluster in the early years of that record. The longer and longer the timespan of the dataset in that stable climate, the less and less likely it will be to establish a new record at either end.

    Variability ensures that there will always be some local “outlier” record-making events. But, unless something in the underlying climate system is changing, those records should be uncommon – and less common as time goes on.

  8. #8 Tim
    January 9, 2013

    “We’re sorry but the video you are trying to watch cannot be viewed from your current location”
    Why are you preventing us in Australia from viewing video of fires in Australia?

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    January 9, 2013

    Tim: I’m getting the same thing on that Koala video. They may have actually pulled it, it doesn’t seem to be on the original site any more either.

  10. #10 Doug Alder
    January 9, 2013

    @adelady thanks for your explanation of “numbersy statisticky things.” :) That makes a lot of sense -

  11. #11 TheBrummell
    Tasmania
    January 9, 2013

    Two words, both with definitions I am not 100% certain of, and neither may really be applicable.
    1. Irony.
    I find it ironic that I cannot watch the videos about Tasmanian fires from my location in Tasmania. I’m in Hobart, a few days ago the far shore of the Derwent Estuary was invisible due to the heavy haze from the smoke of forest fires on the Tasman peninsula. Presumably these are the same fires in the video I’m not permitted to view.
    2. Competition.
    While Australia and the U.S.A. may compete in many fields, climate records seems an odd venue, given the lack of direct control individual people may have over such things. But the competition among internet video broadcasters seems alive and well. Or perhaps it is another business practice best described by a different word, that places such odd barriers across the internet.