Monday, February 4, 2019

Australia's Hottest January on Record as we head into a climate election


Just as climate change has been driving up temperatures in Australia to record levels, the political temperature is also rising for a climate election for May 2019.

Australia has just experienced its hottest December on record, followed by its hottest January. It's already been a very hot summer with record breaking temperatures, and it's not yet over.



It is abundantly clear that this extreme heat is associated with global warming and climate change. The Climate Council made clear in their 2014 report - Heatwaves: Hotter, Longer, More Often - that the trend with rising temperatures driven by climate change was an increase in extreme heat events.

We have had three major heatwaves surging across Australia from mid-December to the end of January, from the build up of heat in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and in Central Australia. ( Read my daily heatwave blogs for Christmas-January heatwave, early January heatwave, late January heatwave)

While east coast towns and capital cities have only felt the extreme heat for relatively short periods, much of inland Australia has had continuous periods of extreme heat. Read detailed account, including all the records broken, at the Bureau of Meteorology: Special Climate Statement 68—widespread heatwaves during December 2018 and January 2019 (PDF).

This is one of the impacts of climate change, and Australia has had 5 years of conservative government whereby climate policy has been driven by a small clique of climate denialists in the Federal Liberal and National Parties.

Australia's emissions have continued to rise over this period, and without major policy changes are projected to keep rising beyond 2030, according to Department of Environment data. Australia's 26-28 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 for the Paris Agreement has been independently assessed as insufficient, and needs to be in the 40-60 percent range for deep decarbonisation and our fair share of international targets.

Australia ranked at 55, near the bottom of the 60 countries in the Climate Change Performance Index.

Scientists have already warned that 50 degree celsius days are already possible in the near future for Melbourne and Sydney, yet the Energy Minister Angus Taylor continues to push for subsidisation of new coal power for Australia, when new firmed renewables are already cheaper than coal.

here is how the Bureau of meteorology described the last two months:
December heat
December was an exceptionally warm month. It was the warmest December on record for Australia in terms of mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures. The national mean temperature was 2.13 °C above average. Maximum temperatures were 2.41 °C above average and minimum temperatures were 1.85 °C above average.

Both maxima and minima were warmer than average across nearly all of Australia. December was the warmest on record for New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. For the remaining States, December was amongst the three warmest on record. - Bureau of Meteorology - Australia in December 2018

January heat
January was an exceptionally warm month. It was the warmest January on record for Australia in terms of mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures. The national mean temperature was 2.91 °C above average. Maximum temperatures were 3.37 °C above average and minimum temperatures were 2.45 °C above average.

Both maxima and minima were warmer than average across nearly all of Australia, with near-average or cooler than average temperatures only observed in northeastern Queensland, across west coast and parts of south coast Western Australia, and other smaller areas in the Kimberley and Top End.

In terms of mean temperatures, January was the warmest or second-warmest on record for all States and the Northern Territory. January mean maximum temperatures were highest on record for the southern two thirds of the Northern Territory, adjacent parts of Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia, eastern South Australia, New South Wales and southern Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, and also for patches of inland southern Western Australia. Mean minima were highest on record for the month for a large area of inland northern Australia, and a large area spanning southern Queensland to the eastern half of Victoria. - Bureau of Meteorology - Australia in January 2019

The mean maximum temperature for January:

The maximum temperature anomaly for January:

The mean Minimum temperature for January:

The minimum temperature anomaly for January:



How capital cities experienced January heat


Australia is a highly urbanised country and the majority of citizens live in the capital cities around Australia. See also Mapping the heat trend in Australia's capital cities in 2018

The Is it Hot Right Now website app assesses capital city mean temperatures on a daily basis and compares them to similar times of year in the past. This is how most Australians experience extreme heat events. My thanks to Mat Lipson, Steefan Contractor and James Goldie for permission to reuse this data.

Sydney City (Observatory Hill)

Observatory Hill had 28 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 5 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only two days were below the mean average (5-40 percent decile range), and one day assessed as average temperature.

Sydney's West (Richmond RAAF)

Richmond had 26 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 9 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only two days were below the mean average (5-40 percent decile range), and 3 days assessed as average temperature.

Melbourne West (Laverton RAAF)

Laverton had 22 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 2 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only four days were below the mean average (5-40 percent decile range), and 5 days assessed as average temperature.

Canberra

Canberra Airport had 28 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 13 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only one day was below the mean average (5-40 percent decile range), and 2 days assessed as average temperature.

The chart clearly shows the record breaking string of four days above 40 degrees experience by Canberra.

Hobart

Hobart had 25 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 3 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only three days were below the mean average (20-40 percent decile range), and 3 days assessed as average temperature.

Brisbane

Brisbane had 29 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 2 days in the top 5 per cent decile. There were nil days below the mean average (0-40 percent decile range), and 2 days assessed as average temperature.

Adelaide (Kent Town)

Adelaide (kent Town) had 18 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 4 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only three days were below the mean average (20-40 percent decile range), and 10 days assessed as average temperature.

Alice Springs

While not a capital city, Alice Springs provides a good measure for Central Australia. Alice Springs had 24 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 18 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only three days were below the mean average (20-40 percent decile range), and 4 days assessed as average temperature.

Darwin

Tropical Darwin had 19 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there were 5 days in the top 5 per cent decile. Only four days were below the mean average (5-40 percent decile range), and 8 days assessed as average temperature.

Perth

Perth had 8 days with mean temperatures above the long term average (60-100 percent decile range) and of that there was one day in the top 5 per cent decile. Twelve days were below the mean average (0-40 percent decile range), and 11 days assessed as average temperature.

While summer extreme temperatures are common in Perth, this January has proven to be a cooler month for the city. Most of the heat generated in northern Western Australia is surging to the south east with Perth missing out on most of the extreme temperatures.


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