Global Warming Moves South #BigAussieHeat

Summer is coming on strong south of the Equator, and in Australia this has meant unprecedented record high temperatures, and in the state of Tasmania, severe brush fires that have destroyed numerous homes, adding to the bad news from fires in the southeastern mainland. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said "And while you would not put any one event down to climate change ... we do know that over time as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events." That is not exactly true, of course. There are no climate related events that lack the fingerprint of global climate change. Certain events would have occurred in some for or another in the absence of climate change but the chance of any given event is increased, and the potential severity of every single event is increased because of the Earth's increased temperature from the human release of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere and other related causes.

My colleague Stephan Lewandowsky, of the University of Western Australia just sent me these observations, which have not yet been made public but will be verified shortly: "Never before in recorded history has Australia experienced 5 consecutive days of national-average maximum temperatures above 39C. Until today. And this heat is expected to continue for another 24-48 hours, extending the new record run to 6 or even 7 days. For context, the previous record of 4 days occurred once only (1973) and 3 days has occurred only twice (1972,2002)."

Here's a map of the temperatures country wide yesterday:

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Weather Data from Australia

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Good thing I moved from Aus to Can then lol

By Ace Nasir (not verified) on 07 Jan 2013 #permalink

How far back do records of Australia's National Average go? How reliant is it on satellite data?
(Not intended as a snarky denial. Just trying to anticipate how Bolt &co. would frame it!)

As far as I know, direct temperature measurements in Australia go back well into the 19th century.

110 Years Ago Today – 123 Degrees In Australia

Link to science denialist site deleted.

Andrew Bolt is impervious to evidence, so it doesn't really matter whether the data is from weather stations or satellites. Just three days ago he noted that "global warming .. actually paused 16 years ago".

The ABS 2008 Yearbook (1301.0) has this to say:

"While there have been short-term meteorological observations in various parts of Australia since the earliest years of European settlement, the first long-term rainfall data set, in Adelaide, commenced in 1839. Until the late-1850s there were only a handful of stations, in the major cities. The observing network then grew through the 1860s in parts of New South Wales and South Australia, then through the 1870s and early-1880s in much of the rest of eastern Australia, and in some key Northern Territory locations. Apart from a few locations near the coast, there were few pre-1900 observations in Tasmania or Western Australia, nor in many of the more remote parts of central Australia. Temperature observations also occurred over this period through many of these regions, but as most of these were made using instrument shelters which are not directly comparable with current standards, they are of little use in assessing long-term trends."

Jo Nova (and her crew of deniers) launched an audit of BOM temperature records in March 2012 and found anomalies that caused them to question the reliability of 10-30% of records.

OK, I've got a more detailed answer to the question of the data on Australian temperatures. First, this info and related information is on the ground measurements and not satellites. Second, the national wide averages for OZ start in 1910. I know that there are records at some stations in Australia that to back to nearly 1850, and also, that there is quite a bit of work in Australia on paleo climate, but that isn't being used here.

As we speak, literally as I typed that last paragraph, my colleagues in Australia, between bouts of putting ice on their heads, have been sending more info, and I've decided that a full blown blog post may be in order. I've got a peer reviewed paper predicting future Australian temps and a very current report from the Aussie BoM about the current heat wave, and it is worth passing all of that on.

The photo at the top is of the Hume Dam (Albury NSW) during the 'big drought'. It's pretty full at the moment as a result of the 'big wet'! But there are fires burning out of control not far from there including one to the north that has forced the closure of the main Sydney-Melbourne arterial, the Hume Highway.

One thing I've not seen commented on is the fact that this 'big heat' we're having is in the absence of the anticipated El Nino.

Also, February is usually the hottest month. Let's hope it's not the case this year.

The Bureau has added to the temperature scale for it's predicted temperatures reaching more than 50C in parts in a few days.

Here in Perth, Western Australia our dams don't fill anymore. They're bascially useless and the Govt has spent up big on new desalination plants. We have a lot of groundwater, which is lucky, but that is getting depleted quickly.

Perth is one of the epicentres of Global warming. OUr rainfall has dropped about 20% since the 70s. Happened very fast too. After 1976 we no longer received high rainfall years.

Last January we had our longest heatwave in history, and the december heatwave on your picture above (between Xmas and New Year) was the longest December heat wave. We get severe heatwaves every year now.

The drought and heatwaves are causing mass die offs in the forests around Perth and to the south.

The heat is now also in the Indian Ocean offshore and is playing haoc with our Lobster fishery and we look like losing the Abalone fishery as weel (that was badly depleted by over fishing though).

Bad times... And most people who live here see it as caused by AGW. It's quite a conversation topic.