Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Australia enjoys warmest winter ever

Weather records have been smashed from one end of the country to the other as Australia swelters through its warmest-ever winter.

The Bureau of Meteorology has taken the unusual step of issuing a "special climate statement", confirming what many of us already knew - this winter has been very mild.

"Abnormal heat" has seen some temperature records broken by more than five degrees.

Some regions had their warmest 2009 day in the winter month of August - hotter than any summer day.

Nationally, the average winter maximum temperature is more than 1.6 degrees Celsius above average.

"Average winter maximum temperatures over Australia are likely to be the highest on record," said the Bureau's statement, issued on Wednesday.

And August was particularly warm - more than three degrees above average across the country.

"August 2009 has seen highly abnormal heat over large parts of Australia," the statement said.

The mercury soared above 37 degrees Celsius in some areas during August.

The Bureau says the hot weather was caused by a lack of cold outbreaks bringing air from the Southern Ocean, as well as clear skies and a lack of moisture.

And it's not over yet. The Bureau says the new temperature records may be broken afresh when more hot weather hits later this week.

Spring is also set to be hot.

Almost all of the country is forecast to be warmer than normal, with northern and western regions to be hardest hit.

It's also expected to be a drier spring than usual, especially in the south of the country.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hot August nights set Australian records

As one can see these hornbags have coped very well with impending dramatic climate change, sending temperatures soaring everywhere.

Australia is having a winter day of extremes as temperatures peak, winds whip, and fire threatens.

Brisbane sweltered through its hottest August day ever, while strong cold winds howled through the southern states.

The record day temperatures and strong winds in the north have fire authorities on high alert, while night temperatures have also been unusually warm.

Brisbane's August maximum temperature record of just under 33 degrees Celsius was smashed as the temperature soared to 35.4 degrees at 4.20pm (AEST) on Monday.

And the high temperatures are set to continue.

"It's an unusual event for August," Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) weather forecaster Janine Yuasa told AAP.

The hottest temperature in Queensland, according to the BoM, was 36.4 degrees at Amberley, west of Brisbane, and in the state's northwest Mount Isa reached 35.7 degrees.

"The highest minimum we've ever had in August was 17.8 back in 1950, if we get 18 degrees (on Monday night) it will be the warmest night on record so far," Ms Yuasa said.

In Canberra, 12 degrees also set a new record for the hottest August night.

Meanwhile, in Sydney a cold front expected for Monday night is in stark contrast to the previous evening when the mercury remained above 20 degrees - double the average August minimum of 8.9 degrees.

Evans Head, on the NSW north coast, recorded the state's top daytime temperature at 36.8 degrees.

Sydney's maximum temperature of 25.4 degrees was recorded just before 10am (AEST) on Monday before gales brought the temperature down along with trees and roofs in Sydney's west.

Gusts of more than 80km/h were recorded at Sydney airport and Badgery's Creek, and more than 2,300 Sydney homes were left without power.

The northeast of NSW is expected to remain hot.

Meanwhile, Victorians have been asked to be storm-ready as the state braces for three days of damaging winds and rain.

A severe weather warning has been issued and wind gusts up to 110km/h are predicted as a cold front moves across Victoria.

Hundreds of South Australian homes have lost power, as strong winds and steady rain batter the state.

After gusts of almost 100km/h blew across the state, BoM duty forecaster Simon Ching said SA had overcome the worst of the wild weather and that he expected the winds to ease.

Tuesday would remain windy, Mr Ching told AAP.

A combination of global warming and El Nino have climate experts predicting this year could be Australia's warmest in more than a decade.

BoM climatologist Karl Braganza said the temperatures this week had been very unusual with temperatures about 10 to 15 degrees above average, breaking many records.

"Some of the locations in parts of Queensland and northern NSW are recording some of the warmest temperatures in 2009 so far, including summer, so it's really quite extraordinary," Mr Braganza told AAP.

"The two factors precipitating these warmer temperatures are global warming and the El Nino in the Pacific at the moment ... when combined together lead to record temperatures.

"What's happening in the north is extraordinary ... we're smashing the August records."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Doom, allready in a town near you!

Seen yesterday, this hornbag is embracing all that climate change has to offer, by lurking under a bridge in somewhat reduced clothing, performing best practice climate change embracing, moving forward.

Study links drought with rising emissions

Melissa Fyfe
August 16, 2009

DROUGHT experts have for the first time proven a link between rising levels of greenhouse gases and a decline in rainfall.

A three-year collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO has confirmed that the drought is not just a natural dry stretch but a shift related to climate change.

Scientists working on the $7 million South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative said the rain had dropped away because the subtropical ridge - a band of high pressure systems that sits over the country's south - had strengthened over the past 13 years.

Last year, using sophisticated computer climate models in the United States, the scientists ran simulations with only the ''natural'' influences on temperature, such as differing levels of solar activity.

The model results showed no intensification of the subtropical ridge and no decline in rainfall.

But when human influences on the atmosphere were added to the simulations - such as greenhouse gases, aerosols and ozone depletion - the models mimicked what has been observed in south-east Australia: strengthening high pressure systems and the significant loss of rain.

''It's reasonable to say that a lot of the current drought of the last 12 to 13 years is due to ongoing global warming,'' said the bureau's Bertrand Timbal.

''In the minds of a lot of people the rainfall we had in the 1950s, '60s and '70s was a benchmark. A lot of our [water and agriculture] planning was done during that time. But we are just not going to have that sort of good rain again as long as the system is warming up.''

Dr Timbal said that 80 per cent of the rain loss in south-east Australia could be attributed to the intensification of the subtropical ridge. The research program covers the Murray-Darling Basin, including parts of NSW, all of Victoria and parts of South Australia.

Monash University’s Neville Nicholls, a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who has also published work on the subtropical ridge, said he believed the research program’s results were right.

"We did think that the loss of rain was simply due to the [rain-bearing] storms shifting south, off the continent," Professor Nicholls said. "Now we know the reason they have slipped south is that the subtropical ridge has become more intense. It is getting bigger and stronger and that is pushing the rain storms further south."

The scientific results have implications for many State Government water programs and drought funding, some of which factor in climate change and some of which do not. Projections for the water coming to Melbourne in the north-south pipe, for instance, are based on the assumption that Victoria will return to rainfall levels of last century.

The Victorian Farmers Federation new president, Andrew Broad, said he would not speculate about whether there was a connection between drought and climate change.

"I have a healthy scepticism for scientists," he said. "But I will say that the doomsday people in climate change are robbing people of hope at a time when that’s all they’ve got left."

Melbourne’s dams get roughly a third less water than they did before the drought began in October 1996.