Australia’s Sizzling Summer of 2019

Record-setting day in January – temp hit 116F in Adelaide   Graphic: The Guardian

This summer Australia shattered its heat records, with temperatures nationwide 3.8°F, above the 1961-90 average, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).  In a summary put out by the Bureau, they summed it up this way, “Mean and maximum temperature for the season broke previous records by large margins; both almost one degree above the record set in 2012–13.”  Here are some of the other “highlights” from the government’s summer heat summary report:

  • Exceptional heatwaves occurred during early December on the tropical Queensland coast and across much of Australia during December and January
  • Significant fires affected eastern Queensland, large parts of Tasmania, eastern Victoria, northeastern New South Wales, and South West Western Australia
  • Rainfall was below to very much below average across most of Australia, but above average for large parts of northern Queensland
  • Severe tropical cyclone Owen caused flooding in the Queensland’s eastern Cape York Peninsula in mid-December, and contributed to thunderstorms over southeast Australia, with flooding in western and northern Victoria
  • Dust storms originating from Central Australia affected the East on several occasions; one storm stretched over 1500 km
  • And two temperature jaw-droppers: 96.6°F, which was the overnight low temperature on Jan. 17 in New South Wales and was the country’s hottest nighttime low on record, and 104°F, which was the temperature reached or exceeded in Canberra for 4 consecutive days, something that had not occurred since records began there in 1939.

The implications are far-reaching. For example, Reuters reported that Australia’s severe heat resulted in several industries taking a hit, including the $4.4 billion wine industry with grape yields set to drop to the lowest in years.  Wildfires are continuing to torch the Australian state of Victoria — firefighters struggled to battle 25 blazes there on Sunday, with more than 2,000 firefighters, water-bombing aircraft and volunteers on the front lines.

Why This Matters: This is continuing a string of years of extreme summer heat in Australia, and the Bureau of Meteorology there stated that the “pattern is consistent with observed climate change….This means that natural climate variability sits on top of this background warming, and temperature records are likely to continue to be broken in the coming years.”    Those high temperatures — exceeding both high temperature and low temperature records, will impact human health as well, not to mention cause power demand to increase for air conditioning.  Temperatures like these are beyond uncomfortable, they can be deadly, and many there are not prepared for them.  There will be an election in May in Australia and many are predicting, particularly after this hot summer, that climate change will be a key issue there too.  

Up Next

Siberia’s Record-Breaking Heat Leads to Wild Fires and Alarm from Scientists

Siberia’s Record-Breaking Heat Leads to Wild Fires and Alarm from Scientists

At the end of June, we wrote that a record-breaking high temperature of 100° F was detected in the northeastern Siberian town of Verkhoyansk. This caused alarm as this was one more indicator of the rapid warming happening at the Arctic Circle. Unfortunately, this stretch of record heat has continued in Siberia where’s it’s accelerated […]

Continue Reading 459 words
Deadly Flooding Hitting Japan Just As It Was Beating COVID-19

Deadly Flooding Hitting Japan Just As It Was Beating COVID-19

At least 50 people have died and many others are stranded and unable to get help because of massive flooding in the Southwestern Japan island of Kyushu, where torrential downpours and mudslides turned streets into rivers and washed-out bridges on Monday, with heavy rain expected to continue through Tuesday, Kyodo News reported.

Why This Matters: Torrential downpours and flash floods are increasingly associated with climate change — and the problem is global.

Continue Reading 456 words
Extreme Heat on the Rise in the UK

Extreme Heat on the Rise in the UK

by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer A new study published in Nature Communications reported that UK summer temperatures could soon reach and exceed 40°C (104°F). As Olivia Rosane reported in EcoWatch, UK summers, at present, only hit this high temperature every 100-300 years. However, according to the new study, which was released by the UK […]

Continue Reading 564 words