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Analysis and Comment (28)

The heat is on. And referees can get it wrong. The heat is on. And referees can get it wrong. Tolga Bozoglu/EPA

Forget the players, World Cup referees are feeling the heat

There has been much hand-wringing over the problems that World Cup players are facing due to the environmental extremes they are exposed to in Brazil. There has been little sympathy for the men in black…
Australia’s weather is influenced by warm water movements in the Pacific. Australia’s weather is influenced by warm water movements in the Pacific. Flickr/Shayan USA

Explainer: El Niño and La Niña

We wait in anticipation of droughts and floods when El Niño and La Niña are forecast but what are these climatic events? The simplest way to understand El Niño and La Niña is through the sloshing around…
A record-breaking winter heatwave - which makes pretty nice weather for a dip. A record-breaking winter heatwave - which makes pretty nice weather for a dip. DAN HIMBRECHTS/AAPIMAGE

Winter heatwaves are nice … as extreme weather events go

If you’ve stepped outside at lunchtime in Sydney over the past few days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was more like early summer than the beginning of winter. On each of the past 23 days, the…
We could be in for some warmer weather with an increased risk of drought and bushfires. We could be in for some warmer weather with an increased risk of drought and bushfires. Flickr/Len Matthews

Are we heading for a worrying Super El Niño?

We have only just moved into May and despite being seven months away from next summer in the southern hemisphere, climate researchers are seeing the beginnings of what could be the most powerful El Niño…
A Cooktown home which lost its roof to Cyclone Ita, although damage was less widespread than feared. A Cooktown home which lost its roof to Cyclone Ita, although damage was less widespread than feared. AAP Image/Dan Peled

How building codes save homes from cyclones, and how they don’t

During Queensland’s preparations for Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman advised residents who lived in older houses (those built before 1985) to evacuate their homes as they…
We know what’s in store – now it’s time to do something about it. We know what’s in store – now it’s time to do something about it. AAP

The IPCC has spelled out the risks – now what do we do?

Despite the mounting evidence, there are still some who would deny the veracity of human-caused climate change and its potential to disrupt and harm our communities. Most dissenters rely on non-expert…
Bleached and healthy corals on the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland’s Keppel Islands. Bleached and healthy corals on the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland’s Keppel Islands. AAP

IPCC: Australia and New Zealand face greater fire and flood risk, damage to coral reefs

Australia’s coral reefs and mountain-top ecosystems are set to suffer from climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest summary of the research. The threats to these…
The Pasha Bulker ran aground near Newcastle in 2007 during an East Coast Low. The Pasha Bulker ran aground near Newcastle in 2007 during an East Coast Low. Wikimedia Commons

Surf’s down: climate change likely to bring fewer big waves

A warmer climate is likely to result in fewer large waves along Australia’s central east coast, according to Bureau of Meteorology research that predicts a decline in the frequency of storms known as East…
Melbourne is facing more frequent hot days in the future. Melbourne is facing more frequent hot days in the future. Wikimedia Commons

Spending wisely now will make heatwaves less costly later

As Melbourne labours through its second heatwave this month, it is becoming clear that these events take a heavy toll. Health, energy consumption, transport, infrastructure, agriculture and other natural…
No you can’t go back for your iPad. No you can’t go back for your iPad. Dave Thompson/PA

How do you evacuate a university during a storm surge?

“Born on a perilous rock” is the title of a classic book by W J Lewis which describes Aberystwyth past and present; last weekend the town fully lived up to this description. To all intents and purposes…
Incredibly cold and very pretty, but not that enlightening when it comes to climate change. Incredibly cold and very pretty, but not that enlightening when it comes to climate change. EPA/RICK WARNE

US cold wave implies nothing about global warming

The central and eastern US has just been in the midst of a major cold wave, with large regions dropping below zero F (-17.7C) and wind chills reaching below -30F (-34C). That is fact. The problem is that…
Tacloban City in the Philippines. Tacloban City in the Philippines. Troclaire

2013: the year in extreme weather

It seems every year has seen weather extremes in recent times. After 2012 brought Hurricane Sandy to the east coast of the United States and the wettest year ever for England, many may have expected a…
UNSW engineer Nic Bingham at a refueling stop half way between South Pole and Ridge A, January 2013. UNSW engineer Nic Bingham at a refueling stop half way between South Pole and Ridge A, January 2013. Geoff Sims

Building a telescope in the coldest place on Earth

Russia’s Vostok station in Antarctica must be one of the scariest places on Earth. Temperatures regularly drop below -80C, and there is no way in or out for nine months of the year. The inhabitants become…
Typhoon Haiyan as seen from space on November 9 by NASA astronaut Karen L. Nyberg. Typhoon Haiyan as seen from space on November 9 by NASA astronaut Karen L. Nyberg. http://twitter.com/AstroKarenN

Inside Typhoon Haiyan and a year of weird weather

Even before Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines with such devastating force, weather watchers around the world had been tracking this year’s typhoon season with intense interest. Typhoon Haiyan has been…
Attributing heavy precipitation to climate change isn’t that easy. Attributing heavy precipitation to climate change isn’t that easy. LordKhan/Flickr

The blame for rain is mainly done in vain

As a climate scientist, it seems for every extreme event - be it the recent hottest 12 months on record for Australia or the floods and heavy rains of 2011 and 2012 - one question is inevitably asked…
Dredging of Tasmania’s Tamar Estuary reveals our sewerage systems aren’t coping so well. Dredging of Tasmania’s Tamar Estuary reveals our sewerage systems aren’t coping so well. Ian Kidd

Sewerage systems can’t cope with more extreme weather

Anyone flushing a toilet in urban Australia today does so confident that they’ll never again see the thing they’ve flushed. They probably also think they are causing minimal environmental harm, thanks…
Typhoon Soulik on 12th July 2013 as the storm approaches the coast of Taiwan. Typhoon Soulik on 12th July 2013 as the storm approaches the coast of Taiwan. NASA

Avoiding annual typhoon catastrophes

Typhoon Soulik struck Taiwan at the beginning of the weekend, killing two people before moving on into Guangdong in southern China, where 300,000 people have already been evacuated. Classed as a category…

Forecasting the chaos of tornadoes

During the autumn of 1944, the US Air Corps forecasting team made a series of perfect predictions about weather patterns over the Pacific Ocean. Or so it seemed according to reports from aircrafts flying…
Tornadoes are common in the US Great Plains, but still devastating. Tornadoes are common in the US Great Plains, but still devastating. Carsten Peter/EPA/World Press Photo

Explainer: why are tornadoes so destructive?

Tornadoes are a part of life for people living in the Great Plains of the United States. In Oklahoma, a state that averages 62 tornadoes a year, people are prepared as best as they can be and are well…
People affected by floods move to higher grounds in Khoski, Sindh province, Pakistan, 17 September 2011. People affected by floods move to higher grounds in Khoski, Sindh province, Pakistan, 17 September 2011. AAP

Weather extremes: atmospheric waves and climate change

The northern hemisphere has experienced a spate of extreme weather in recent times. In 2012 there were destructive heat waves in the US and southern Europe, accompanied by floods in China. This followed…
Heat, floods and fire: it’s not just weather. Heat, floods and fire: it’s not just weather. timswinson.com

Angry summer shaped by a shifting climate

The hottest summer on record. The hottest month on record. The hottest day ever recorded for the whole of Australia. Heatwaves, bushfires, record rainfall and floods – extreme events across the land. This…
The Australian media might call them ‘mini-tornadoes’, but they’re just as destructive as the real thing. The Australian media might call them ‘mini-tornadoes’, but they’re just as destructive as the real thing. AAP Image/Paul Beutel

Tornadoes in Australia? They’re more common than you think

There is a long-standing myth that Australia doesn’t get tornadoes. This simply isn’t true. Just ask residents of Burnett Heads and Bargara, on Queensland’s southeast coast, or the Melburnians who were…
Adapting to future disasters is complicated and expensive, but might be more cost-effective than endless clean-ups. Adapting to future disasters is complicated and expensive, but might be more cost-effective than endless clean-ups. AAP Image/Paul Beutel

Clean-up or adaptation? ‘Disaster-proofing’ Queensland

Following several years of devastation in Queensland, the state’s premier believes it’s time to “flood and disaster proof” as many towns and communities as possible. In Mr Newman’s words: “We can’t accept…
A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and that can lead to more extreme rainfall. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and that can lead to more extreme rainfall. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Increases in rainfall extremes linked to global warming

Rainfall extremes are increasing around the world, and the increase is linked to the warming of the atmosphere which has taken place since pre-industrial times. This is the conclusion of a recent study…
Recent extreme weather doesn’t tell us how the future will be. Recent extreme weather doesn’t tell us how the future will be. EPA/Justin Lane

Hurricane Sandy: the new normal?

Are we now experiencing the “new normal” climate? Let’s look at the recent evidence: A storm of historic proportions is moving up the east coast as a Nor’easter without precedent, since no such storm has…
Residents of Virginia have begun sandbagging against the arrival of Sandy. Residents of Virginia have begun sandbagging against the arrival of Sandy. EPA/MIchael Reynolds

Hurricane Sandy mixes super-storm conditions with climate change

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy remains a very large, powerful hurricane. On Sunday afternoon (local time), Sandy brought winds gusting to 103km/h to coastal North Carolina. Heavy rains are already occurring…
The climate system is highly sensitive to radiative forcing, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing more extreme weather events. Isn’t it time to take notice? The climate system is highly sensitive to radiative forcing, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing more extreme weather events. Isn’t it time to take notice? AAP

The atmosphere’s shift of state and the origin of extreme weather events

The linear nature of global warming trends projected by the IPCC since 1990 and as late as 2007 (see Figure 1) has given the public and policy makers an impression there is plenty of time for economies…

Research and News (4)

Research Briefs (5)