Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Australia's Climate is sizzling

South east Australia has just sizzled through another heatwave. Of course it is just weather which has a natural variability. One weather event can't be pinned down as the result of climate change. Climate change is about trends and averages. And the trend is its getting warmer, we're sizzling.

In Melbourne on Monday night the thermometer stayed well into the low thirties, finally reaching a minimum of 30.6 degrees at 8.50am on Tuesday, the equal highest overnight minimum on record, last seen on February 1, 1902. Record equaled.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported that 2009 was the nation's second warmest year since high-quality records began in 1910, with the decade being the warmest on record. Annual mean temperature for 2009 was 0.90°C above the 1961-90 average. It was noted that the second half of the year, with Australia, Victoria, South Australia and NSW all recording their warmest July-December periods on record.

The heatwaves in January and February 2009 set a new Melbourne maximum temperature record of 46.4°C, new State maximum temperature records for Victoria (48.8°C at Hopetoun) and Tasmania (42.2°C at Scamander), and contributed to the Black Saturday bushfires. It was also the warmest August on record. A heatwave during November across central and southeast Australia, lead to a record 8 consecutive days of maximum temperatures above 35°C in Adelaide, and numerous maximum temperature records across southern and eastern Australia, especially in South Australia and New South Wales.

South Australia is Cooking

The temperature is really cooking in South Australia with 2009 the warmest year on record with the mean temperature of 1.3°C above average for South Australia as a whole, since average temperatures records started in 1910. 2009 was the 17th consecutive year that above average temperatures has occurred.

In many locations around South Australia record warmest nights were recorded in 2009 when averaged across the year as a whole. For Adelaide it was the equal warmest year, along with 2007, with mean annual temperatures 1.3°C above average. For many inland locations across the state it was the warmest year on record.

A record breaking heat wave across South Australia in the first half of November 2009 with Adelaide experiencing 8 consecutive days in excess of 35°C from Sunday 8 November to Sunday 15 November. New November heatwave records were also set for many regional towns in South Australia. The heatwave has dried out much of the grasslands and bush exacerbating the fire danger with the extreme temperature conditions, low humidity and strong wind conditions. Catastrophic Fire Danger warning was issued for two regions.


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.