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.’’
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.