Graph of the Day: Climate change stoking extreme heat in Australia

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Science finds ‘overwhelming’ link between man-made climate change and extreme heat events, like the one in 12,300-year 2012/13 Australian summer.

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Compared to the last few Australian summers, the 2014-15 season has gone gently on us, so far, with relatively few extreme heat events. But we shouldn’t be fooled. According to the latest research released by Australia’s Climate Council, the scientific evidence linking man-made climate change and extreme heat is now “overwhelming”.

In a report titled “Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Extreme Heat in Australia,” the Climate Council details findings showing the number of record hot days Australia experiences every year has doubled over the last 50 years.

To put it plainly, climate change is making Australia hotter, with hot days happening more often and  heatwaves becoming hotter, longer and more frequent.CC_MV007-Heatwaves-Infographic-Map_V3

And that record year of extreme heat the nation experienced 2013 – that would have been virtually impossible without climate change.

“The evidence on the link between climate change and extreme heat is stronger than ever, and in fact is overwhelming,” the report says.

“There is a ‘calculable’ human influence on the record hot summer of 2012/2013.

“Without this influence, the record temperatures Australia experienced in that period would occur only once in 12,300 years,” the report says.

Now, according to the IPCC, 1-in-20 year extreme hot days are expected to occur every two to five years by the middle of the century – that is, four to 10 times more often.

“Without effective action on climate change, today’s extreme heat will become commonplace, occurring every summer across the continent in the last decade or two of this century,” the Climate Council says.

“Towards the end of the century,” says the report, “the occurrence and intensity of extreme heat will depend strongly on our success, or not, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

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12 Comments
  1. John Englart 5 years ago

    This year January was the coolest in monthly average temperature for Melbourne for the last decade, but the average mean MINIMUM temperature for the month was 1.6C degrees above the long term average. This is in keeping with the more rapid rise in minimum temperatures than maximum temperatures during summer months. The chart attached shows the long term trend in average minimum temperatures for BOM Melbourne regional office for summer months. I discuss this in more depth at Climate Action Moreland http://climateactionmoreland.org/2015/02/05/cool-january-saw-a-1-6-degree-increase-in-average-minimum-temperature/

    • Matti Ressler 5 years ago

      “the long term trend in average minimum temperatures for BOM Melbourne regional office for summer months” is known as “The Urban Heat Island Effect”. With this minimum temperatures are always warmer, because things like concrete and asphalt hold the heat well into the night.

      This is not “global warming”. You will find that minimum temperatures in rural areas close to Melbourne show no such trend.

  2. Raahul Kumar 5 years ago

    I’m hoping for much more extreme heatwaves, because it is well known that the support climate change action depends on hot people believe the weather is. Enough heatwaves close to the election date, and we could see a huge surprise in election results.

    • david_fta 5 years ago

      I understand older people (climate Deniers seem to be older people) are at higher risk of heat-induced mortality during heat-waves.

      In the longer term, that has to be Good News.

      • Raahul Kumar 5 years ago

        Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long. With heatwaves, bushfires and storms, that has precipitated action on climate. Likewise, the fossil fuel interests are being undercut by the move to zero emission sources.

        I am expecting an amazing inflection point, because the climate change movement has been working away for a long time. It has had results, even if they haven’t been obvious.

        Even in the most conservative countries, change has happened.

  3. Matti Ressler 5 years ago

    These graphs and reports are not compiled by climate scientists, but rather climate change activists like Tim Flannery of The Climate Council, a self appointed organisation of has beens.

    Now for some facts:

    1. There is no statistically significant difference between the warming rates of the late 1800’s, early 1900’s and the mild 0.3 degree warming between 1978 and 1998 (Professor Phil Jones, CRU East Anglia). Climate scientists do not regard CO2 as being a factor prior to 1950. There is no “signature” for CO2 “forcing” in the temperature record. It has not and cannot be measured.

    2. The planet cooled between 1940 and 1975, all the while that anthropogenic CO2 emissions were escalating dramatically.

    Why did it not warm?

    3. 1/4 of the total of anthropogenic CO2 emissions since the beginning of The Industrial Revolution have occurred since 1998, yet the temperature trend since 1998 remains flat: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1997/plot/rss/from:1997/trend

    Why has it not warmed?

    These three points clearly falsify the AGW/CO2 hypothesis – simple empirical evidence. This is how real science is done folks, isn’t it simple?

    • Warwick Frame 5 years ago

      Did you read the warning about using short cherry picked trend lines on the data?
      Real science looks at all the data not just little bits seperatley to get the answer you want. Try running the trend line from 1996 instead of 1997. the lines go up now showing that it has been warming. We all know that 1998 was an above average year and therefore should not be used as a starting point.

      • Mark Jackson 5 years ago

        It’s so easy to spot a Boltist, isn’t it, with the buzzwords they use and the memes they copy.

    • Steerpike13 5 years ago

      I think you will find the great majority of the report was taken from research published by climate scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science – as you can see here ( https://www.climatescience.org.au/content/782-climate-detectives-reveal-handprint-human-caused-climate-change-australia ) Unfortunately, while the researchers were credited the Centre’s contribution wasn’t acknowledged in the report.

    • Shtoney 5 years ago

      I think you will find another culprit….

      My money is on the thousands of contributors to the IPCC reports, not three counter-examples.

      Image from:
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/6959/6131030099/

    • Beat 5 years ago

      Q: Why has it not warmed?
      A1: There are some carbon sinks like the oceans. The ocean acidification caused by CO2 absorbtion causes a lot of harm to marine flora and fauna.
      A2: Climate is highly non-linear stuff which can’t be understood by a linear way of thinking or drawing trendlines. If you wait for the system to show an evident output, it’s too late to act on the CO2 input. If you put fossil fuel guys (linear thinkers) at the controls of a nuclear power station (non-linear system) and tell them to ramp up the reactor, you get what happened in Chernobyl.

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