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Analysis and Comment (45)

The AAL Fremantle, borne along by a meteotsunami, hits the rail bridge next to Fremantle Harbour. The AAL Fremantle, borne along by a meteotsunami, hits the rail bridge next to Fremantle Harbour. ‏@Mattiegeesu via Twitter

Explainer: how weather can trigger dangerous tsunamis

At around 10pm on Sunday 17 August 2014, the container ship AAL Fremantle was being unloaded after arriving in Western Australia’s Fremantle Harbour, when it broke away from its mooring and collided with…
An El Niño - even a weak one - can cause reduced rainfall in eastern Australia. An El Niño - even a weak one - can cause reduced rainfall in eastern Australia. Tim J Keegan/Flickr

Don’t dismiss a 2014 ‘super’ El Niño just yet

It looks like it’s all over bar the shouting for the chance of this year bringing on a “super” El Niño. Or is it? The Bureau of Meteorology has brought the odds of an El Niño event down to 50%, from 70…
The monsoon can dampen spirits, whether it rains too much or not enough. The monsoon can dampen spirits, whether it rains too much or not enough. Arvind Jain

India is missing its monsoon, and El Niño could be the culprit

With each monsoon season India waits with bated breath for forecasts from the India Meteorological Department and other international forecasting agencies. This year’s forecast suggested a weakened monsoon…
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…
What’s the best way to check the weather on the go? What’s the best way to check the weather on the go? Shutterstock

How does the Bureau’s new mobile weather site stack up?

Here’s a new bookmark for the browser on your mobile device: m.bom.gov.au. The Bureau of Meteorology has finally released its new mobile website, formatted for smart phones and tablet computers. The site…

VIDEO: How the weather affects our mood

We often use the weather as a metaphor for how we’re feeling: gloomy, sunny or under a cloud. But how does it actually affect us? In this episode of TCTV, Nick Haslam describes the influence of sunny skies…
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…
Australia’s very hot January was followed by a very warm September and a worldwide record for November. Australia’s very hot January was followed by a very warm September and a worldwide record for November. BaboMike/Flickr

2013 was Australia’s hottest year, warm for much of the world

The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed 2013 as Australia’s hottest year since records began in 1910. Average temperatures over the continent have been 1.2C above the 1961-1990 average, breaking the previous…
Drought is part of life in Australia. Drought is part of life in Australia. Flickr/Schilling 2

Drought conditions return to Australia’s eastern states

While much of Australia has received average to above average rainfall over recent months, parts of Australia such as western Queensland are in the middle of a drought. Drought has been a feature of the…
Sydney’s September was warmer than its November, a very unusual occurence. Sydney’s September was warmer than its November, a very unusual occurence. Stilgherrian/Flickr

Australia records its warmest spring

The spring of 2013 has been Australia’s warmest on record. Mean temperatures for the season were 1.57C above the 1961-1990 average, surpassing the previous record of 1.43C (set in 2006) by 0.14C. Daytime…
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…
Sunlight has repeatedly been found to boost positive moods, though the link is weaker than many people imagine. Sunlight has repeatedly been found to boost positive moods, though the link is weaker than many people imagine. Image from shutterstock.com

Here comes the sun: how the weather affects our mood

The weather supplies many metaphors for our changeable minds. Moods can brighten and darken, dispositions can be sunny, futures can be under a cloud and relationships can be stormy. Like the weather, our…
Storm’s-a-coming… Storm’s-a-coming… TEKN Photography/Flickr

The future will bring hurricanes to Europe

Damaging hurricanes are familiar along the US east coast, with the recent hurricane Sandy a dramatic example. In Europe we are unused to such dramatic weather and the widespread destruction that hurricanes…
That’s one way to cool down. That’s one way to cool down. Flickr/RMT

Explainer: what is heat stroke?

Nearly two weeks into the longest heatwave in seven years, the UK has been basking in temperatures of up to 32C. But while the weather is welcome for many, not everyone is so lucky - researchers estimated…
The lights are on and no one gut hurt. The lights are on and no one gut hurt. Roozbeh Rokni

Rain check: how Toronto escaped flooding disaster

For almost sixty years Hurricane Hazel has stood as the most extreme storm on recorded in City of Toronto but this week, on July 8th, a new record was set. A series of storms hit the city late in the afternoon…
You can blink, you won’t miss it. Climate change is here for good. You can blink, you won’t miss it. Climate change is here for good. rudecactus

Global warming is here to stay, whichever way you look at it

Has global warming stalled? This question is increasingly being asked because the local weather seems cool and wet, or because the global mean temperature is not increasing at its earlier rate or the long-term…
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…
If we have good weather in June the grass pollen count could be severe. If we have good weather in June the grass pollen count could be severe. PA

The pollen forecast is in: a good June could be a bad year for grass

When I was a child and was first diagnosed with hay fever, the doctor told me I would grow out of it. I didn’t ask for a rough date when that might be – I just went away and each year I suffered I hoped…
It’s a good job they come with built-in jumpers. It’s a good job they come with built-in jumpers. PA/Niall Carson

How cold has it really been in the northern hemisphere?

If you are one of the many people with a larger than normal heating bill for recent months, you would probably be under the impression that it has been exceptionally cold in the northern hemisphere. We’ve…
Even in Tasmania, it’s been hotter than it should be. Even in Tasmania, it’s been hotter than it should be. James975/Flickr

More angry, more often: March heatwave signals a new normal

Daylight hours are dwindling and our first month of autumn is ending. But in many places, March felt a lot like summer. Get used to it: looking ahead, all indications are that future summers could be just…
Another summer, not quite like the other summers. Another summer, not quite like the other summers. Steve Lacy

Floods, fires and lots of heat: summing up summer 2012-13

We all know what to expect from summer in Australia. From December through March it will be hot, there will be storms and floods, and there will be bush fires. It’s been like that for as long as history…
Australia’s latest summer has been significant for weather and for climate. Australia’s latest summer has been significant for weather and for climate. VIBE Audio

Hot summer? Yes: the hottest

This summer hasn’t just felt hot. It’s been hot. In fact, the summer of 2012-13 is now the hottest on record. Average temperatures beat the record set in the summer of 1997-98, and daytime maximum temperatures…
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…
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…
Over summer, the US has been dry and hot. It’s not alone. Over summer, the US has been dry and hot. It’s not alone. EPA/Larry W Smith

Northern hemisphere has another hot, hot summer

The 2012 northern hemisphere summer, like its two predecessors, has seen a wide range of climate extremes, many involving heat. In most recent summers there has been at least one part of the world with…
Vulnerable people and places are worst affected by weather-related disasters, especially those most reliant on the land. Vulnerable people and places are worst affected by weather-related disasters, especially those most reliant on the land. Chaim Zvi

Disasters and mental health in rural and remote areas

Mental health problems cause profound suffering and are worthy of attention for that reason alone. But despite policy and service reform, such problems remain as common, expensive and disabling as they…
Derivatives can allow farmers to reduce their risk by guarding against changes in the weather. Derivatives can allow farmers to reduce their risk by guarding against changes in the weather. Flickr

Why hedging a bet on Mother Nature is a hot commodity

For some industries, the weather plays a significant role in determining revenue. Unexpected weather events can often cause significant financial losses. For instance, a drought can yield a severe impact…
A precise weather forecast, months in advance, will never be possible. A precise weather forecast, months in advance, will never be possible. Matt Smith

A chaotic beast, probably: wacky weather and climate forecasting

“Prediction is very difficult. Especially about the future” – so said Neils Bohr, the Danish physicist and 1922 Nobel Prize winner. And you know what? I think the bloke was onto something there, especially…
A satellite picture of Cyclone Yasi from the Japanese weather satellite MTSAT 1R. A satellite picture of Cyclone Yasi from the Japanese weather satellite MTSAT 1R. German Meteorological Society/DPA

Australia in space: letting others watch us … but at what cost?

Australia’s Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has more than once described the Australia of the past as a “mendicant country” regarding science. While this is a controversial, perhaps overly-broad, generalisation…
When it comes to weather, scientists and the media have different understandings of risk. When it comes to weather, scientists and the media have different understandings of risk. Ameel Khan

Spinning uncertainty? The IPCC extreme weather report and the media

The “reasonable person” would agree that disaster risk is best avoided. Under a changing climate, how exposed people are to risk and how socially and physically vulnerable they are affects how often disasters…
We all want to know how bad the next fire season will be, but working it out isn’t easy. We all want to know how bad the next fire season will be, but working it out isn’t easy. AFP/Torsten Blackwood

‘The worst fire season ever’ … until next year

Bushfires are part of the Australian landscape and the psyche of its human inhabitants. This is particularly true as months of hot, dry weather approach. Recent warnings have predicted a dire summer ahead…
The way scientific success is measured has negatively impacted on the new model army. The way scientific success is measured has negatively impacted on the new model army. Cristof Stache/AFP

Like tears in rain: weather and climate modellers are an endangered species

Storm clouds are gathering in the world of weather and climate modelling – a discipline that saves lives and property every day and has revolutionised our lives in recent decades. What we might call the…
We don’t know which storms will turn into deadly tornadoes. We don’t know which storms will turn into deadly tornadoes. RAGardner4

Tornado Alley 3D: an authentic storm chasing experience

Everyone loves a good storm. Rolling thunder, a spectacular light show and fat drops of rain that make the earth smell like summer. Although thunderstorms are far more belligerent than your average cloud…
Climate models allow us to look at the planet’s future climate. Climate models allow us to look at the planet’s future climate. Truthout.org

Explainer: climate modelling

We know the climate is changing because that’s what climate models tell us. But what exactly is a climate model, and are they cutting-edge science or modelling madness? What is a climate model? Climate…
In the future, private companies may provide your daily dose of sunshine. In the future, private companies may provide your daily dose of sunshine. clooky

Blue-sky thinking – what’s on the horizon for weather forecasting?

The world of weather forecasting is still dominated by government agencies and national weather services, but there’s now a steady drip-drip of private forecasters. While they’re not exactly flooding the…
The East African drought is one of the area’s worst in 60 years. The East African drought is one of the area’s worst in 60 years. AAP

From Kenya to Texas: recent climate extremes around the world

2010 was the world’s hottest year on record, with global temperatures 0.53°C above the long-term (1961-1990) average. 2011 started with a strong La Niña (perhaps the strongest since 1917), something which…
The humanitarian crisis in the Horn continues to escalate. The humanitarian crisis in the Horn continues to escalate. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

From fear to famine: the politics of hunger in the Horn of Africa

While droughts are caused by weather – the failure of the rains – famines are invariably political. The current famine in southern Somalia should have come as no surprise. Aid agencies have been warning…
Aid is not getting to those who need it most. Aid is not getting to those who need it most. AFP

When drought becomes famine: the role of politics in the Horn of Africa

With the UN declaring famine in Somalia for the first time since 1992, and other countries in the Horn of Africa suffering critical food shortages, this already unstable region is facing devastation. Drought-stricken…
Looks the same to me… our personal experiences are not the best indicators of change. Looks the same to me… our personal experiences are not the best indicators of change. P León/flickr

Climate change, personal experience and the vagaries of memory

We see it in the media all the time. Regular beachgoers who see no evidence for sea-level rise, farmers trusting long-term experience over Bureau of Meteorology forecasting, Antarctic sea-captains whose…
The decade ending 2010 was the warmest on record for Australia. The decade ending 2010 was the warmest on record for Australia. AAP

The greenhouse effect is real: here’s why

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Bureau of Meteorology scientist Karl Braganza explains why we know the climate is changing, and what’s causing it. In public discussions of climate change, the full range…

Research and News (4)

Tree-hugging koalas beat the summer heat

Keeping cool during summer can be difficult, but new research published in Biology Letters shows that koalas cope with high…

Research Briefs (16)

How to predict a perfect storm

A study from Stanford University suggests that “perfect storm” disasters can be anticipated using an engineering risk analysis…