On yesterday in The Gong and climate change

Fortunately I have air conditioning. Unfortunately I am a pensioner. But comfort won over the future power bill. In The Gong:

The heat is still on for the Illawarra, with more hot weather predicted for the region, bringing the risk of further bushfires.

Temperatures in the region climbed quickly on Tuesday, doubling between 5am and lunchtime and reaching the forecast 43 degrees.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Albion Park recorded the highest temperature, hitting 43.1 degrees at 1.44pm.

Kiama (42 degrees), Nowra (42.4) and Bellambi (40.1) also broke 40 degrees.

Winds were strong for most of the day, with gusts over 60km/h recorded in several areas.

Bureau meteorologist Jane Golding said the state was in between the La Nina and El Nino weather patterns, meaning more hot weather could be expected in coming months…

Yes, it has been hot before yesterday, and yes, there have been bushfire seasons and conditions before 2013. Just to consider one state, see Victoria. See also my post The bushfire and the Australian imagination.

John Longstaff, “Gippsland, Sunday Night” 1898

But I do believe it is highly likely there is something different right now, and it is captured in two maps.  The first is the most recent world picture from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA.


“The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for November 2012 was 0.67°C (1.21°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (60.4°F). This is the fifth warmest November since records began in 1880. Including this November, the 10 warmest Novembers have occurred in the past 12 years.”

The second rather telling map is in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.


To explain:

AUSTRALIA’S ”dome of heat” is becoming so intense, temperatures are off the charts – literally.

When the weather bureau’s model started churning out predictions for next Sunday and Monday of more than 50 degrees, chart producers quietly extended the scale beyond the level previously used.

For now, those days show regions of South Australia with deep purple – indicating 50-52 degrees. As yet, the new maximum scale of 52-54 degrees – to be coloured pink – does not feature.

This IS new.  On Monday Australia experienced its hottest ever day –  measured by the mean of all temperature maxima for that day – since records began, and yesterday, though I have not seen the figure published yet, seems set to make that record short-lived.

Ben Cubby in a very factual article in today’s Herald explains it all rather well.

According to a peer-reviewed study by the Australian-based Global Carbon Project, global average temperatures are on a trajectory to rise a further four to six degrees by the end of this century, with that rise felt most strongly over land areas. It would be enough to tip Tuesday’s 40-plus temperatures over much of mainland Australia close to 50 degrees in some parts.

"Those of us who spend our days trawling – and contributing to – the scientific literature on climate change are becoming increasingly gloomy about the future of human civilisation,” said Liz Hanna, convener of the human health division at the Australian National University’s climate change Adaption Network.

”We are well past the time of niceties, of avoiding the dire nature of what is unfolding, and politely trying not to scare the public,” Dr Hanna said. ”The unparalleled setting of new heat extremes is forcing the continual upwards trending of warming predictions for the future, and the time scale is contracting.”

Around the world, this year could be the hottest ever recorded by modern instrumentation, according to a recent study by Britain’s Met Office.

It said that, based on the rising background warming trend, this year would be 0.43 to 0.71 degrees hotter globally than the average temperature between 1961 and 1990, with a ”best fit” of 0.57 degrees warmer. If that turns out to be accurate, this year would surpass the previous record, held jointly by 2005 and 2010.

The Met Office findings are considered telling in the climate science community, because this year is set to be a relatively ”neutral” year, without a strong El Nino warming cycle to push up temperatures.

The current Australian heatwave, while exceptional, is a continuation of the record-breaking temperatures seen across much of Australia since September, according to the special climate statement issued by the bureau on Tuesday. The last four months of last year were the hottest on record, albeit by just 0.01 of a degree.

”This event is ongoing with further significant records likely to be set,” the statement said.

The weather bureau’s Dr Jones said the background warming was now clearly felt.

”Our oceans are hotter, the tropics are hotter, so any attempt to disentangle climate change from what we see in terms of weather doesn’t make much sense – everything is hotter,” he said. ”There is no alternative world which doesn’t have the fingerprint of warming.”

I really cannot for the life of me see why any of this could possibly be controversial any longer. What may or may not be done about it is, of course, another matter. But, if one is to judge from Loon Pond – and I really can’t be bothered with the likes of Devine on this issue any longer, it appears some still manage to cling to the belief that there is nothing much going on except in the  mind of “alarmists”. I have so often trawled through these waters that again I really can’t be  bothered, but if you insist start at this post.  Every major scientific organisation on the planet and the vast majority of really distinguished scientists have long admitted the reality of both global warming and anthropogenic (or human-affected) climate change.  And guess what: Al Gore really doesn’t figure in that, except as a publicist.

So yes, one summer doesn’t make a global warming, as one day doesn’t make a summer. But if you are inclined to the ostrich position on climate change, I wouldn’t take much comfort from that. The evidence against ostrichism is getting more and more persuasive as our BOM finds itself forced to add colours to its temperature maps!


From my street last night around 7pm. Temp around 40C.

Oh, in case you wondered: I am not a rusted-on Green. Indeed I related very much to Matthew Da Silva’s post Greens’ deep red heart leaves me politically homeless just now.


See Australia’s heatwave forecast in one animated map.