A new report from The Climate Council, the crowd-funded climate science lobby group established and led by Dr Tim Flannery after the Abbott Government abolished Climate Commission, lists an unprecedented number of extreme heat moments over the past summer, following on from 2012-13, the hottest summer on record.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has already declared the summer of 2013–14 as warmer than average for Australia in terms of both maximum and minimum temperatures, but the Climate Council data shows the past summer was less extreme than many recent rises above the mean temperature.
Among the figures cited in the report, they say:
- Record high maximum temperatures occurred over 8.8 percent of Australia during the first four days of January, including 17 percent of NSW, 17 percent of the Northern Territory, 16 percent of Queensland and 8 percent of South Australia.
- Victoria experienced its hottest four days on record from 14–17 January, and Melbourne set a record for four consecutive days at 41°C and above (14–17 January) and two nights in a row at 27°C or above (15–16 January).
- Adelaide sweltered through a record-breaking five consecutive days of 42°C and above, and Canberra experienced a record run of four days of 39°C. During the summer of 2013/2014, Canberra recorded 20 days of at least 35°C (BoM 2014c).
- Since 1950 the number of heatwave days each year has been increasing in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart, and across Australia as a whole.
- Since 1960, the annual number of record hot days in Australia has doubled and over the past decade, record hot days have occurred three times more often than record cold days.
- Since 2001, the number of extreme heat records has been almost three times greater than the number of cold records for daytime temperatures, and almost five times greater for night-time temperatures.
In conclusion, the Climate Council says “limiting the increase in extreme weather activity requires urgent and deep reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases. The decisions we make this decade will largely determine the severity of climate change and its influence on extreme events for our grandchildren. This is the critical decade for action on climate change”.
You can read the full Climate Council report here.
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