Australian Heat Wave Has No Precedent

Heat records have been falling in Australia for several days.


Via Stephan Lewandowsky who writes:

Never before in recorded history has Australia experienced 5 consecutive days of national-average maximum temperatures above 39C. Until today.

And this heat is expected to continue for another 24-48 hours, extending the new record run to 6 or even 7 days.

For context, the previous record of 4 days occurred once only (1973) and 3 days has occurred only twice (1972,2002).

This information is from within the Bureau and reliable but it has not been released to the public yet–but feel free to spread.

I have enclosed a temperature map that may be of interest.

Although the generally cooler island of Tasmania has escaped the most extreme heat, it has not escaped the consequences of the heat wave.


  1. Pingback: The new normal: 2013 Australian heat wave has no precedent | Watching the Deniers

  2. For visualization purposes, this neat overlay from ClimateChangePsychology (Tenney Naumer) is helpful. Very similar in area to the US:

    A friend near Perth says it's horrid with humidity; and that Tasmanian fire(s?) are in an area that's remote with difficult terrain.

  3. Washington, D.C. averages 1.2 days of 100F or above as of the 1981-2010 climate period. The long-term average is less than one day per year, with 109 days (including five so far in 2011) at D.C. that have hit or topped 100F. The highest temperature ever at D.C. was 106F, and it was reached on August 6, 1918 and July 20, 1930. A breakdown of all days 100F at D.C. is heavily skewed toward the lowest numbers. 44% hit 100 on the nose, 22% made it to 101, 17% to 102, 7% to 103, %6 to 104 and 2% each to 105F and 106F. The most recent “super heat” temperature came on July 29, 2011 when D.C. reached 104F, the highest temperature observed there in over a decade and tied for 5th hottest all time.

  4. I live in Perth, Western Australia. Between Xmas and New year we had our longest December heatwave and it's getting hot here again. It's just awful. Unescapable. We were thinking in the last heatwae we should move to Tassie, but that looks too hot now as well!

    Perth has really suffered under AGW, our rainfall has dropped from about 880mm to around 650mm per year since 1975. Now all the dams in the hills outside of Perth are pretty much useless as they are perpetually in deficit and rarely exceed 30% capacity.

    Bad times.

    But at least we're all rich from the iron ore boom!

  5. Why worry? Next week's going to be worse than this - or at least Monday will be.

  6. Yes in the mountains or foothills would be nice!
    Land isn't very expensive down there, and as and Australian I can just move there if I want to. Definitely worth thinking about.

    Not sure I want to work with brown coal though...

  7. My friend who lives near Perth has been silent recently - she did mention it wasn't the heat but the humidity, but that was before it got *much worse*. Got me thinking about all the people who got in touch when I was in the midst of the violence that was Sandy and its aftermath (only on the fringes but it was bad). Comes a point when whether the world notices becomes irrelevant as one must cope.

    Thinking about it, how dangerous is that heat? Sounds a bit out there, dunnit?

  8. My experience from the Texas version of this is that 110 degrees with a dew point of 75 is not much more uncomfortable that a temperature of 80 with a dew point of 75, so it IS the humidity for humans enjoyment of the outdoors.

    For plants and consequently for wildlife and livestock it is another story. All the moisture gets sucked out of the environment very quickly at extremely hot temperatures. A couple of years like this will turn anyplace into a desert. Meanwhile you get fires.

    So discomfort (especially if you can afford air conditioning) is not really the problem.

    Canadians have long survived winters where an unprotected human would die quickly. The tech for humans surviving deadly summers is a bit more complex but not in principle different from surviving deadly winters. (Note that the drought just gives you more solar power to work with.)

    The trouble is that nowadays the environment is under a sort of shock, which technology cannot fix or protect us from.

  9. Being a namby pamby Yank, I wilt in anything over 88 unless it's quite dry, and definitely mid-90s makes me take shelter, though much better when dry.

    One might also suppose the absence of automatic A/C which we all take for granted, due to cultural differences or power outages (common in extremes weather).

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  12. Adelaide has always been confident (no better word comes to mind) about living with extreme dry heat. Better than that uncomfortable sticky heat in Sydney or Brisbane. It's really helpful at around 35 to 38C.

    Different story at 41+. You have to be really careful when you step outside or you'll choke when you open your mouth to speak. At 41 the humidity here is down below 6% - that will desiccate your mouth and throat in a split second. There's a reason why those desert nomads in films wear scarves across their faces.

    As for higher humidity. One really uncomfortable thing that's happening - I presume because of the Hadley cell moving southward - when there are cyclones or tropical storms on the NW coast of Western Australia. The system drifts southerly rather than due east across the Northern Territory. So we get a higher humidity airstream in the south eastern parts of the continent, and we really, really don't like it. It's not "our" weather.

  13. Chewing gum is very helpful. I've once been in Arizona during a hot summer. The only one using a bicycle. Even the Mexicans declared me crazy. But on the bike you don't sweat (for it evaporates) and you don't need to touch the hot ground for long. A chewing gum is essential to keep your throat from drying up, plus some bottles of water.

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