Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

It’s a scorcher: new site tracks heatwaves across Australia

As much of inland and eastern Australia sweats through its first heatwave of the summer, a new interactive website has been launched to track where the heat is coming from and to map past heatwaves across…

It’s getting hot in here: temperatures soar across inland and eastern Australia around 2pm today. http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/meteye/

As much of inland and eastern Australia sweats through its first heatwave of the summer, a new interactive website has been launched to track where the heat is coming from and to map past heatwaves across the country.

Extreme heat has killed more Australians than any other natural hazard in the past 200 years. For example, more people died during the 2009 Victorian heatwave than the Black Saturday bushfires.

But as scorcher.org.au explains, a heatwave is more than just one hot day.

It is a long period of excessive heat, with at least three consecutive days where the daily maximum temperature is in the top 10% of warmest temperatures for that calendar date.

Our new website uses daily temperature records that stretch back to 1910.

And research into heatwaves over Australia and the world reveals some concerning trends - particularly when it comes to increasingly frequent and long heatwaves over eastern Australia.

Is it hot enough to be a heatwave?

Australia is no stranger to scorching extreme temperatures. Hot temperature events, including heatwaves, have punctuated our climate for thousands of years, and will continue to do so for thousands of years more.

But what exactly is a heatwave? And although they are a natural part of our climate system, are there any signs of changes in the past century of weather records around Australia?

That’s what Scorcher sets out to explain.

The new Scorcher website this afternoon. http://scorcher.org.au/

Based on maximum temperature, the website has two main functions: a map that displays where in Australia a heatwave has recently occurred, and clickable links to temperature records for more than 100 weather stations.

It also lists other interesting facts such as the longest heatwave, the hottest heatwave, and the hottest stand-alone day for each weather station.

Beyond one bad day

The universal heatwave definition is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which, from a climate perspective, is as ambiguous as it sounds.

My recent research has sought to make this definition clearer. The Scorcher site defines heatwaves based on peer-reviewed and published scientific research, conducted at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

Heatwaves occur when at least three days in a row exceed the 90th percentile, where this threshold is unique to each day of the year.

And they can be measured from daily maximum, minimum, or average temperature. Researchers can then analyse them in terms of their frequency, intensity, duration, time of occurrence, and how widespread they are.

A number of hot days need to line up for a heatwave to occur. Sydney’s hottest recorded temperature, for example, was not part of a heatwave.

From Central Australia to Tasmania

We also tend to think of heatwaves as only hitting in summer. When we think of extreme heat, we think of scorching hot days, such as last summer when the mercury soared above 40°C.

But “excessive heat” can occur in the cooler months too. The use of a percentile-based threshold allows us to measure non-summer heatwaves, as well as their warm season cousins. This wouldn’t happen if excessive heat was defined as, say, a number of days over 30°C or 35°C.

Setting an arbitrary threshold also means that heatwaves would be detected too often in some regions (such as in Central Australia), and not enough in others (such as Tasmania).

However, just like heatwaves are relative to the time of year, they are also relative to where they occur. So, heatwaves can (and do) happen in Tasmania, and they can have serious effects, even if they can’t match the searing intensity of a heatwave in Central Australia.

Flickr/bolti22

Longer heatwaves, more often

Since the 1950s, parts of Europe, Asia and North America, and Australia have seen a detectable increase in the number of days that have been part of a heatwave. An increase in the number of heatwave days also eventually means we’ve seen longer and more frequent heatwaves.

Changes in heatwave intensity are highly regional, with a tendency towards increasingly frequent and long heatwaves over eastern Australia. That’s been happening more since the early 1970s.

We also need to keep an eye on heatwaves occurring during the cooler seasons. My recent research has shown that the occurrence of these events are increasing faster than summertime heatwaves.

Flickr/Vermin Inc

Crops such as fruit, wheat and maize have finite temperature thresholds. The occurrence of these temperatures, particularly in the form of a heatwave during the traditionally cooler growing season, can lead to massive crop failure.

New South Wales recently saw an extremely early start to the bushfire season. This was, at least in part, due to extreme temperatures relative to winter and spring drying out the fuel load, and shortening the delicate hazard-reduction season.

When it comes to extreme temperature, the future is looking pretty bleak.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states hotter temperatures will occur more often. Heatwaves are no exception.

Join the conversation

129 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Great Article, thanks for the link to the site

    report
  2. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " A number of hot days need to line up for a heatwave to occur. Sydney’s hottest recorded temperature, for example, was not part of a heatwave. "
    That is a good example of the variability that will always exist despite any human caused climate change and predictions by the IPCC.
    I doubt they will be making too many predictions on cool waves and even though there'll always be a lot of people who would rather not being having cool waves when we would not mind them, perhaps we ought to also have a site for cool waves, not just for the surfers either.
    It would definitely have some psychological benefits.
    A tad over a century is a longish time relative to how long most of us will live and yet in terms of climate patterns and subsequent weather experienced it is also very short.

    report
    1. In reply to Greg North

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Greg North

      Maybe 100 years is a short period to measure climate Greg. In any case climate change and increasing heat as we now see in Australian summers and winters, have more to do with increasing heat since 1950 (increasing industrialisation post war), the reason for global climate change. Cool waves are observed to be decreasing, heat waves increasing. This year will likely be the hottest on record for Au. Wishing no-one accepts and talks about climate change won't work. There is a reason why the combined…

      Read more
    4. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Greg North

      "That is a good example of the variability that will always exist despite any human caused climate change and predictions by the IPCC."

      I never noticed where the IPCC predicted less variability on top of the higher average temperatures. Perhaps you could let us know where they did.

      report
    5. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, It is interesting that the BoM terminated all the historic temperature prior to 1910 and conveniently started at that cool period when the previous century held some record temperatures that have not yet been broken.

      Their excuse was that the old Glaisher screens were 0.2c warmer than Stevenson screens and must be discarded.

      Never mind that they were factual raw data.

      It is also interesting that we have rarely had the results of a heatwave that was experienced in Parramatta in Feb 1791 when Arthur Philip recorded in the First Fleet Journals that birds and bats were dropping dead from the heat at the rate of 20,000 per mile.

      Unluckily there was no thermometer to record the temp but there were no deaths anything like that on Sydney's "hottest" day.

      report
    6. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      " I never noticed where the IPCC predicted less variability on top of the higher average temperatures. Perhaps you could let us know where they did. "
      Sorry Chris, I cannot oblige your request for I have not made a claim on what variability or not the IPCC have predicted.
      Others might be able to inform you whereas I've just highlighted that hotter days not in a sequence of hot days is an indication of variability in whatever climate change there is.
      In fact, one hottest of days in a cooler period is showing what could be considered an up side of variability just as a number of cooler days following a period of hot days does.
      If you have experienced the Fremantle Doctor, the Four seasons in one day or the wait five minutes in Melbourne changes that can follow extremely hot days or a sequence of them and get something like a 20C temperature drop, you'd know the extremes of variance that can occur, similarly with Sydney's southerly busters and even hail stone storms.

      report
    7. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Greg North

      " I have not made a claim on what variability or not the IPCC have predicted."

      That claim is implied by your use of the word "despite" in your statement:

      "That is a good example of the variability that will always exist despite any human caused climate change and predictions by the IPCC."

      Perhaps you need to be a little more careful with your choice of words.

      report
    9. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      With 93% of the warming going into the ocean, natural variability plays a smaller part in the measurements of ocean heat content than it does in global average temperatures.

      Remember, global average temperatures only measure the 2m above the surface of the Earth, so it is much more susceptible to natural variation and only good for examining long term trends.

      This graph of ocean heat content (hiatus anyone?) is a much better measure of global warming. http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

      report
    10. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    11. Terry Reynolds

      Financial and political strategist

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, for once I agree with you. When you live in cities like Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide and stuck between a huge hot dry Australian land mass and a cold Southern Ocean you are going to get extremes of temperature from time to time, depending on which they air is moving in from.

      I went to a wedding in Nhill Victorian on the Australia day weekend 2002 and it was 52C. It was about 43C in Melbourne that day. If that hot desert Nhill air had have blown towards Melbourne it may have copped 52C…

      Read more
    12. Liz Downes

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      ... there were however reports earlier this year of many thousands of flying-foxes dying from the heat in a number of locations in NSW, on two separate dates in January. I don't live in NSW and only have figures for those events because I had a particular interest at the time, but others may be able to provide information about similar mass deaths of flying-foxes due to heat in recent years. If Arthur Philip's estimates were roughly correct and the mortality was even greater in 1791 than 2013 could it not simply be due to the fact that their populations were much greater more than 200 years ago, than they are today?

      report
    13. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Actually Chris on another conversation I painstakingly added the world temperatures for 10 year periods during the "hiatus", starting well before it , to get a rolling mean ten year average, each ten years starting one year later... and presto. There was no hiatus, even ignoring ocean temp.

      report
    14. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Liz Downes

      "their populations were much greater more than 200 years ago, than they are today?"

      Yes, Liz, that could be the case. Bats seem to die before birds at around 47c depending on their age and strength.

      Birds are usually more resilient. I have only seen one bird die in flight and that was at around 50c.

      People who are now long dead have told me that it always started happening when the merc got to 120f.

      My point though is that we were getting heatwaves in the 1790s and they were similar to today.

      And before the days of aircon and labour-saving devices humans just had to put up with it.

      Unlike today's virtual reality where we can easily escape, when we are confronted by extreme weather that we can't escape from we tend to think it's "unprecedented".

      Particularly when interested parties always seize the opportunity to push an agenda.

      report
    15. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, the fact is heatwaves have increased in number length and intensity since 1910. Extreme heat records have also increased by 40% and extreme cold records have declined by around 40%.

      This is a clear, undeniable, global trend.

      One hot day in the 1790s prior to a reliable instrumental record in one corner of the world means nothing.

      It is also impossible for you to make the statement that "we were getting heatwaves in the 1790s and they were similar to today" and imply this means something…

      Read more
    16. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      "Jim, the fact is heatwaves have increased in number length and intensity since 1910. Extreme heat records have also increased by 40% and extreme cold records have declined by around 40%.

      This is a clear, undeniable, global trend."

      Got any evidence for that Alvin other than the new and modified/adjusted BoM records?

      Any good records from 1791 to 1910?

      Those WA bird deaths were as much due to a water shortage as temperatures but there was a similar occurrence in 1932 before the increase in ACO2.

      report
    17. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      What "problem" Jim, I mentioned "your concerns" which seem to be many. I have no doubt you are confused. You could try looking at a few credible sources for information. Nasa, BOM, the CSIRO, MET etc
      Has that graph passed any form of broad scientific review process? I doubt it. Stephen Goddard is not considered to be a credible source of anything except distortion and misinformation. Stephen Goddard is not his real name, and he may have a bachelor of science in Geology and a Masters in electrical…

      Read more
    18. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, your insistence on repeating that there were previous heat waves, has little to do with what is happening now. Perhaps you could include the recorded snow line in the Australian Alps, and temperatures in the Antarctic, both atmospheric and ocean to bolster your arguments?

      report
    19. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      There is this paper from Sarah Perkins, which is Australian and follows her work on global heat records. http://www.climatescience.org.au/content/242-australian-heatwaves-longer-hotter-and-more-frequent

      There is this work by Markus Donat and Lisa Alexander around hot temps worldwide - http://www.climatescience.org.au/content/146-extreme-hot-temperatures-increase-40-world-heats

      Sadly, there are no reliable instrumental records from 1791-1910, which in itself makes your argument impossible to make as well.

      As for those WA bird deaths, water was not the problem. A large number of birds died right beside a lake. I was heavily involved with this and as the government vets who carried out the autopsies found, the birds died from heat stress.

      It was an important incident in WA because more than 120 rare Carnaby's Black Cockatoo died.

      report
    20. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Oh and one other question Jim. you say, "Got any evidence for that Alvin other than the new and modified/adjusted BoM records?"

      I am assuming that with this statement you are saying either:
      * BoM doesn't have the correct skills to understand temperature records.
      * There is a intentional misrepresentation of temperature records by the Bureau. Let's call it scientific fraud.

      Which is it?

      report
    21. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, people can put thermometers anywhere they like, adjust raw, historic data till the cows come home and claim all sorts of variation in warming but the most accurate GAT is from the TLT satellite measurements because it covers a wider part of the global surface.

      It also happen to correlate very well with surface thermometers but because it measures land awa ocean it is always more honest and accurate.

      It also removes the urban heat island effect which positively influences many official thermometers.

      If you wipe all the old records from the 19thC, start again at a cool period in 1910 and then start placing new thermometers in hot spots in recent years, what do you think that is going to tell you?

      It's called manipulation.

      I agree that just looking at Australian temps is pointless but you are inferring that these heat waves are a measure of AGW.

      report
    22. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "we have rarely had the results of a heatwave that was experienced in Parramatta in Feb 1791"

      But that was in the Little Ice Age.

      report
    23. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Okay Jim, who is the quote from and what records were they using to make that judgement call?
      Meanwhile as the PAGES paper from earlier this year indicated. the Little Ice Age was not a global phenomenon and even if it was, one hot day in a specific region is weather, not climate.
      And please answer my question. In your opinion do you consider the adjusted records at BoM to be the result of incompetence or scientific fraud?

      report
    24. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      The increasing frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves around the world is a clear signal of AGW as are the increasing numbers of heat waves being broken especially compared to the number of record cold events which show an ongoing decline in number.

      report
    25. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Also it's absurd to think that temperature gauges put on verandahs under tin roofs, in boxes, or "anywhere" in the 19th. century are a reliable scientific record of temperature early in Australia's history.

      Those temperatures were raw data. Much more accurate than paleo data that scientists are forced to use in their place.

      BoM claimed they were too hot but those verandahs were the coolest places humans could contrive in those hot areas and were arguably cooler than any Stevenson Screen out in the sun. Prior to 1910 they were mostly bark roofs with thatch ceiling and in the far west they often had thatched spinifex walls that wicked water from the bore overflow up from a surrounding trough and the resulting evaporation was like aircon.

      report
    26. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      And yet the temperatures on those verandahs still produced record hot days.

      And the BoM hates that.

      report
    27. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      And just like that you identify the issues with earlier temperature measurements and why they are not reliable and not used as part of the current instrumental record.

      Stevenson screens are consistent across Australia.

      The various forms of measurement before 1910 were done in different boxes, in trees, even inside carboard boxes used for holding cases of beer and under vastly different conditions. There is absolutely no consistency or accuracy across measurements prior to 1910.

      The 1910…

      Read more
    28. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      What the BoM hates is unreliable measurements - as do all genuine scientists.

      report
    29. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      No it's not, yearly incidents of temperatures over 100 F are increasing over time. (Australia is prone to heat-waves, and always has been). Temperatures have risen over the whole planet, and Australia is not immune.
      http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Climate/Understanding/State-of-the-Climate-2012/Temperature.aspx
      Climate change caused by burning greenhouse gases is the reason.
      And for those who need to look up very hot temperatures and track them over Australia, this new site is a good idea.

      report
    30. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      That's part of what the denialists call the Little Ice Age. They can't keep a straight narrative. One minute they say it's the Little Ice Age. Next they say there's an unrepeated heat record within it.

      report
    31. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Stevenson screens may have been around since the 1870s but not in Australia and not as part of a reliable network of measuring stations.

      report
    32. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      I love the NOAA figure you supplied. It shows unequivocally a warming, globally, not just in Australia. So, I'm guessing NOAA also decided to only start paying attention from 1910 - except that might make it difficult to explain the 1880 starting date.

      It also uses two data series, one of which doesn't use Stevenson Screens at all.

      In short, using entirely different measures, this seems to confirm BoM's data as well.

      report
    33. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, if you really believe that graph represents the last 17 years of GAT you are nothing but a denier.

      Co2 is still going up but temp has plateaued and going down.

      report
    34. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "temp has plateaued and going down"

      There is no statistically significant global cooling. Hasn't been any since the 1950s. Plenty of statistically significant global warming since then, of course.

      report
    35. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone

      Indeed Alvin, it does closely follow the global temperature with a cooling from 1955 to 1970, a strong rise from 1970 to to 1980, then a flattening followed by another longer rise from 1980 to 2003, and a lesser rate from 2003 onwards. One would not expect the ocean temperatures to follow exactly the land and atmospheric temperatures, because of the behaviour of ocean currents and the mixing of the waters. But since we know that the atmosphere warmed from the 1970s to the 1990s…

      Read more
    36. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice Kelly

      Alice perhaps you missed noticing the "number of hottest days" in the 1920s on that record from the CSIRO reference you gave us. Also did you see that recently the number of coolest days has increased slightly - inspite of the fact that the world as a whole is warmer than it has "ever been" in the past?
      John Nicol

      report
    37. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone

      Thinking a bit more about the phenomenon of "Heat Waves", whether caused by Global Warming (CO2 induced of course) or naturally, we must acknowledge that the earth has warmed almost continuously over the past, say, 150 years, since the LIA - whether or not the LIA was global or confined to the Northern Hemisphere. Given the degree of mixing of the atmosphere between the North and South hemispheres, not inconsiderable, it seems highly unlikely that during the approximately 200 years…

      Read more
    38. In reply to John Nicol

      Comment removed by moderator.

    39. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "State of the climate CSIRO"
      1. Temperature, All of Australia has experienced warming over the last 50 years. Some areas have experienced warming since 1960 of up to 0,4C per decade(see map) resulting in total warming over the five decades of 1.5 to 2C.
      2. Number of record hot day maximums at Australian climate reference stations. The number of days with record hot temperatures has increased each decade over the past 50 years. There have been fewer record cold days each decade. 2000 to 2009 was…

      Read more
    40. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      "And respect the science."

      You mean as in, according to your graphs, the oceans are warming less, the atmosphere is warming less and even cooling but we are certainly increasing our CO2 output.

      I certainly respect that science [and much more that points in the same direction] and it seems to falsify the AGW/GHG theory.

      report
    41. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone

      Whether a thermometer is in a cardboard box, under the roof of the verandah of a house, or in the most up to date box a meteorologist could devise, provided it is not in direct sunlight, the thermometer measures the temperature of the air around it, full stop. You can argue on the accuracy of the thermometers and the care of the readers; you can quote the UHI effect, and the effect of shifting the position of the thermometer within a city surrounds, but the fact remains that the…

      Read more
    42. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, perhaps you can get some of your fellow deniers to do and publish peer reviewed research on cool waves. No doubt they will be able to scrape together one or two such "waves" and play them up for all they are worth.

      report
    43. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "The atmosphere is warming less and even cooling", no. "The globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was the highest for November since record keeping began in 1880""The noaa summary said it marked the 37th consecutive November and 345th consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th. century average."
      http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/news/index_en.html
      This year globally Jan. to Nov. is the 4th. highest on record.
      http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2013/11/
      but you suggest the highest nov. temp on record, the 4th highest world temp., highest temp on record year, for Australia etc as "cooling"
      No Jim you don't respect the science of climate change. Good luck with the theories jim.

      report
    44. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      "The globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was the highest for November since record keeping began in 1880"

      Alice, here is the November 2013 temperature. It is still 0.19c above average but that is about 0.1c less than it was when Hansen turned off the aircon and started the big panic in 1988.

      http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_November_2013_v5.6.png

      During the period of satellite temperature measurements [ last 34 years] half that time has been spent with no warming with the last 10 years actually cooling according to NASA RSS data:

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1996.9/plot/rss/from:2001/to:2011/trend/plot/rss/last:120/trend/plot/rss/from:1996.9/trend

      report
  3. Rene Oldenburger

    Haven't got one

    Always thought that heatwave definitions talk about 5 days and not 3

    report
    1. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      The definition varies from place to place. The WMO use five days, the Danes three. Using a shorter definition gives you more of them though.

      report
    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      ahhhh.. definitions... like the one that says if you work 1 hour per week, your officially "employed" lol

      report
    3. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      3 was used based on the fact that impacts (to humans, infrastructure, ecosystems, etc) can occur on this timescale. yes, you do get more of them when set at 3, not 5, but that's not the reason why this length was chosen, In fact some research shows that human impacts can occur over just two days.

      report
    4. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      trust me - it wasn't something that came up on a whim. I invested a lot of time coming up with a definition that balanced everything, from impacts to climate data, based on endless reading a research. It will always be a work in progress!

      report
  4. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    The website looks very pretty and seems to work OK. I wonder what it's for though? I can't see the site being any use as a research tool - the researchers would be much better off with the underlying data. And"Scorcher" seems a little emotive for a name.

    report
    1. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      It was intended more for public interaction than researchers. And as for the name, I'm thinking if you are in the middle of a heatwave, it's pretty much an Aussie thing to call it a scorcher.

      report
    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Scorcher relies on BoM temperature records. Perhaps the individual station function could bring up the entire temperature history from that station, perhaps as monthly averages?

      I like the map; what might be interesting is to nominate any date in BoM records, and the map displays any areas experiencing heat-wave conditions according to current heat-wave definition.

      report
    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      It's pretty much an Aussie thing Alvin to call any really hot day a scorcher.
      Actually seems a pity that we have not used the word much more to describe anything hot as a schorcher, where desired of course.

      report
    4. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Greg North

      agreed - e.g. the day in Sydney today is a scorcher, but I doubt very much it will be part of a heatwave. "scorcher" was chosen because it reflects extreme temperatures, and heatwaves are certainly extreme temperatures.

      I'd love to see the website developed to include single- and double-day extreme events too, watch this space.

      report
    5. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to David Arthur

      Hi David, if you click on "past" and "future" you can look through the individual temperature records for every station. I'd love to have an actual date search feature for each station but ran out of time/money for this iteration. I also really like your idea of the map - will add that to the list of things to do! I also want to make all data a little more real-time, perhaps updating for the day before at a set time, so there is only a 1-day lag not two. The TODO list is growing very long :)

      report
    6. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      what Alvin said -purely for public interest and education. The website comes from research I've previously conducted, where I used the metrics to research past and future changes in heatwaves. But it's great to see that my work has a practical application to - I think this is extremely important for research to have this (where possible).

      report
  5. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      What pause?

      "Land and ocean temperatures around the world soared in November 2013, making it the hottest month since 1880, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

      report
    2. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Hi Mark, Can I suggest you keep an eye out for a paper from the Centre that comes out on January 1, in Nature. The research in that paper directly relates to climate sensitivity and the role of clouds and I think you will be interested in the findings.

      There is also another paper due out later in the year that directly addresses the hiatus (as you call it) in global average temperatures. It also has some fascinating findings.

      And then of course there is this paper ( http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=missing-data-from-arctic-one-cause-of-pause-in-temperature-rise )that takes into account the missing data from the Arctic in relation to the past decade and a bit. It reveals that once this data is added, the hiatus disappears.

      report
  6. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    Quote: "However, just like heatwaves are relative to the time of year, they are also relative to where they occur. So, heatwaves can (and do) happen in Tasmania, and they can have serious effects, even if they can’t match the searing intensity of a heatwave in Central Australia." Updated Wed 2 Oct 2013 - Please stop raining; "Many Tasmanian farmers in the north and north west of the state say the sustained period of rain is the worst they've seen in memory." http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-02/please-stop-raining/4994030
    Guess that's called 'a rain wave," and needs a webpage asap as this is further evidence of global warming.

    report
    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark McGuire fancies himself as a climate science denier.

      Unfortunately ability does not match ambition.

      First of all, scientists like to use numbers not anecdotes to determine which of two things is bigger.
      "Tasmania was the only State to report above-average rainfall, 54% above average for that State's 11th highest October rainfall ..."
      http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/mwr/aus/mwr-aus-201310.pdf

      And secondly, more intense precipitation is what you would expect in a warming world. A warmer…

      Read more
    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      There have been changes to rainfall on the west coast for 30 years, they get less than they did. There are some areas where a friend had to walk to a helicopter pick-up 25 km's away for instance, and his feet barely touched the ground. The ground was 6' under fallen mossy trees, wet all the way. This is wet rainforest. I'm glad it all had a decent rain this year. So the north had rain, the mersey river will be happy. This is variability Mark.

      report
  7. Robert McDougall

    Small Business Owner

    QUICK!! everyone have a look at this website BEFORE Abbott removes it. :P

    report
  8. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    I note that the sorcher website has a link to the pseudosientific SkepticalScience website which casts a long shadow over its credibility.

    report
    1. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      So, explain to me how one link in the FAQs, to a clear explanation of a paper on the relation between average temperatures and extremes lacks credibility.

      I would also be interested to hear why you think a website that relies on peer reviewed scientific sources lacks credibility. What are your sources and what is their publishing record?

      report
    2. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      I was referring to the listing of Skeptical Science (SkS) as a 'useful link'. SkS has a reputation as being very partisan and lacking in objectivity. Its main purpose appears to be supposedly to debunk arguments put forward by those that question the theory of CAGW. However, many of its arguments have been discredited or are highly questionable. Its so-called 'consensus project' is highly dubious and deceptive. This is not a website that a credible and objective researcher should be linking to.

      report
    3. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      The arguments in SkS generally hold up very well and all refer to peer reviewed literature, something I don't see often in climate change denier arguments.

      It's 97% paper actually has very sound methodology, particularly compared to other papers examining the consensus.

      Please enlighten me as to what its deceptive practices are and how SkS lacks credibility, as I would be interested to understand your point better.

      report
    4. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      "something I don't see often in climate change denier arguments."

      Firstly, the vast majority of sceptics don't deny the climate changes so the term 'climate change denier' is both outdated and meaningless. There are many sceptical sites which support their arguments with links to peer reviewed research and real-world empirical data.

      One of John Cook's major deceptions is to assert that 97% of climate scientists support the so-called consensus by being ambiguous about the definition of the consensus…

      Read more
    5. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "SkS has a reputation as being very partisan and lacking in objectivity"

      at extremely partisan and non-objective blogs. Well they would say that, wouldn't they?

      report
    6. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff,

      Climate change denier is, as you know, a shorthand way of saying someone who denies the consensus position on anthropogenic global warming. Your response to this phrase is essentially just semantics. The phrase is neither outdated nor meaningless unless someone is trying to run away from that accurate description of their position.

      The Cook paper is quite clear about its definition of consensus. The definition is simply that human beings are causing recent global warming.

      Equally…

      Read more
    7. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      "The definition is simply that that human beings are causing recent global warming."

      Why can't you see that this definition includes anyone that believes that humans are causing some global warming and includes most sceptics?

      In the methods section of the Cook paper there is descriptions for 7 levels of endorsement . ONLY level one meets the IPCC definition of the so-called consensus. Further investigation reveals that only 65 of the 12,000 papers included in the study were given a level one endorsement (i.e. of 0.5% of the papers explicitly met the IPCC definition of the consensus.

      Like I said, the 97% figure includes a large proportion of sceptics and is totally meaningless. Cook's study is designed to fool the statistically.

      report
    8. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      SkS does no actual research but merely cherry-picks research to suit its agenda. Unfortunately, many scientific organisations are controlled by alarmists who have their own political agendas and have forgotten the true nature of the scientific method.

      Interesting to note that a recent AGU gathering was sponsored by EXXON Mobil and Shell. Looks whose cuddling up to fossil fuel companies now.

      report
    9. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "the statistically illiterate"

      Yeah, like those who think no statistically significant warming means the same thing as no warming.

      report
    10. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, if you read the paper you will find your statement that "only level one meets the IPCC definition of the so-called consensus" is not true.

      I don't believe the IPCC definition calls for a quantitative figure with the endorsement of AGW for it to be accepted as part of the consensus. Please point me to the phrase where the IPCC says that because it sounds bizarre in the extreme. Especially when the first quantification by the IPCC came in the latest Working Group 1 report, well after the…

      Read more
    11. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      So, what you are saying Geoff, and please correct me if I am wrong, AGW is a big scam being perpetuated by the heads of major scientific bodies all around the world. Correct?

      report
    12. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      "There are three levels of endorsement in the Cook paper."

      This is incorrect. If you look at Table 2 in the Methods section it clearly describes 7 levels of endorsement. Level 1 is the only level that explicitly attributes human activities to be responsible for most of the recent warming. As I have already stated, only 65 of the 12,000 studies in Cook's paper were given a level 1 endorsment. Hence, only 0.5% of the studies explicitly endorse the so-called consensus that human activities are responsible for most of the warming.

      Even if someone believes that human activities are responsible for only 5% of the recent warming, then they they effectively can be categorised as someone who believes humans cause global warming or that they endorse AGW.

      report
    13. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Sorry, Geoff, I should have made my statement more clearly. There are three levels of endorsement that support the consensus on AGW (three others oppose and one is neutral).

      Now, I repeat my statements and await your response (and also your response to the idea that AGW is a big scam led by the heads of major scientific bodies).

      From above: "if you read the paper you will find your statement that "only level one meets the IPCC definition of the so-called consensus" is not true.

      I don't…

      Read more
    14. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone

      Alvin, the endorsement or otherwise of AGW is totally irrelevant. The endorsement needs to be accompanied by a statement/research paper or reference, which explicitly demonstrates, theoretically or experimentally, that increased CO2 in the atmosphere causes significant increases in global temperatures. This is what is totally absent from the "consensus" or whatever you like to call it.

      There is absolutely no point in taking the comment by a biologist or geographer, the latter…

      Read more
    15. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin,

      You say, "I'm sorry Geoff, but your position makes no logical sense."

      But it does make perfect ideological sense.

      I'm sorry Alvin but you are banging your head against a brick wall with all these guys.

      report
  9. John Nicol

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    "Heat waves" and "scorchers" do not necessarily always coincide. The effect observed by a human being is the result of boith temperature and humidity.

    In cold climates, it is now common practice to state the actual measured temperature and the effective chill factor which lowers the conceptual temperature and increases its level of distress. There should also be a "warmth factor" or "frying component' or some such to add to the temperature reported or predicted. In very dry weather in the inland, provided the wind is not blowing strongly off very, very hot sand, even a very high temperature is often still at a reasonable level of comfort.
    John Nicol

    report
    1. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      I believe the Scorcher site explicitly says as much, John, and it also measures heatwaves in winter.

      This site is about the top 10 percent of temps and how long these must persist in consecutive days for it to be classified as a heatwave.

      I find it intriguing that a new and useful website looking at heatwaves as they develop over Australia is attracting so much comment around climate change. Are the changes in heatwaves an indicator of climate change? It appears so. But this site is just about data and it allows the public to make those comparisons over time themselves and watch as heatwaves evolve.

      For instance, it has been fascinating to watch the heatwave that started in Perth slowly but surely start moving eastwards across Australia.

      report
  10. Comment removed by moderator.

  11. Doug Mason

    logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

    I looked at the site but since I suffer with red-green colour vision deficiency I am unable to identify whether I am looking at a black line or at a red line.

    This might provide the topic for an article.

    Doug

    report
    1. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Mason

      Hi Doug,

      Thank you. You have raised a really interesting point.

      I'm going to take what you have said into account and ask all researchers to ensure as much as possible that in papers, posters and other areas that require diagrams that we avoid certain mixes of colours or find other ways of identifying differences.

      In this way people with your very common form of colour blindness can still interpret graphs in the future.

      report
    2. Doug Mason

      logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      Hi Sarah,

      It is often a factor of colour combinations, so that I am unable to see red writing on a black background (and vice versa) but I can see red writing when it is say on a yellow background. I often have problems when some reds and blues are used together. I presume that is how the Ishihara Test operates.

      There is any amount of relevant material on the www. Perhaps the Variantor Glasses might help - but they are not cheap.

      As a suggestion, perhaps rethink how to make an identification…

      Read more
    3. Doug Mason

      logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      I do not have THE solution to the difficulties experienced by people with "colourblindness" (not that I am blind to colours), but I feel it is incumbent on me to provide some mental triggers.

      Imagine what your graphs and diagrams would be like if you did not resort to any colours at all. What methods would you have to employ?

      Perhaps moving to bar charts instead of line charts might help?
      Perhaps relative sizes of images (sun for heat, balloon for gas; snowflake; clouds; etc.). Perhaps some…

      Read more
  12. Geoffrey Sherrington

    Surveyor

    Ordinary people are getting non-stop global warming rammed down their necks, so we would not expect the scientific symmetry of a site devoted to cold records, would we.
    Just for your interest, here are some graphs using BoM data that show January and February heat waves in history for Melbourne. Sydney shows a similar pattern. Only a zealot would fail to notice the obvious, that the frequency and severity of heatwaves has hardly changed in more than a century, or even gone down if you could subtract away the UHI effect that might be stronger in later years than earlier.
    The BoM are aware of figures like this, but describe them as being 'behind the game'. Seems to me it's a game with strange rules if you try to ignore such blatant examples of not fitting the warmist dogma.
    https://cpanel37.syra.net.au:2083/cpsess8528960186/frontend/crazycloud/files/showfile.html?dir=%2fhome3%2fgeoffstu%2fpublic_html&file=Heatwaves2013.jpg

    report
    1. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      Geoffrey Sherrington

      Geoffrey, I would very much like to see that site, but it keeps asking me to log in (to cPanel I think) before it will let me in. Do you know of an alternative site with the same graphs or information?
      Thanks,

      John Nicol

      report
    2. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      The Markus Donat / Lisa Alexander paper did exactly that. There was a 40% increase in heat records and a corresponding 40% decline in cold records.

      report
    3. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone

      Can you give me access to at least some diagrams from the paper.

      One needs to be a little cautious in making interpretations of global warming parameters and characteristics. For instance, the published global temperatures from the IPCC are "effective" temperatures, not average. The former include use of the non linear factor at each representative site: Sigma x T^4 where sigma = 5.67 x 10^-8. Thus, the quantity published as representing the earth's temperature, .is in fact…

      Read more
    4. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, The physics you are using is outside of my understanding. I will pass it on to a climate scientist with a physics background, to get me there.

      That said, I'm not sure that your black body radiation calculations take into account the increased trapping effect of carbon dioxide or the storing of heat in the ocean and the atmosphere.

      At the same all of this can discussion about heat and energy in the Earth's system can be bypassed through satellite measurements, which show that more heat is entering the Earth system than is being radiated into space.

      That is why we have increased melting of land based ice, sea level rise caused by heat expansion, increases in ocean heat temp, warmer overnight temperatures etc.

      If, as you say, the Earth is cooling, why are we seeing continued impacts that suggest warming on a global scale rather than impacts that would suggest a cooling of the planet?

      report
    5. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      "That is why we have increased melting of land based ice, sea level rise caused by heat expansion, increases in ocean heat temp, warmer overnight temperatures etc."

      Alvin, the GRACE measurements of land based ice are flawed through a faulty ground reference, admitted by NASA JPL, there is no accelerating SLR, increase in ocean heat is immeasurable and GAT has gone nowhere for 17 years.

      AGW theory claims the earth is warming because rising CO2 is like a blanket, reducing Earth’s energy loss to space. However, data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that at least for the last 30 years, Earth’s energy loss to space has been rising. The last 30 years of NOAA data is not compatible with the theory of AGW. It would appear that either 30 years of NOAA data is wrong or the theory of AGW is flawed.

      http://jennifermarohasy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/AGW_Falsified_Michael_Hammer.pdf

      report
    6. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Goddard, Watts and now Marohasy. Jim, I think you have proved beyond doubt that proper data and peer review are beyond your ken.
      I think I have wasted enough time on this with you as you have no idea of consistency of data and don't trust anything except your own imaginings when it comes to science. I'm off to enjoy my holidays, I trust you enjoy yours.

      report
    7. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      "Goddard, Watts and now Marohasy. Jim, I think you have proved beyond doubt that proper data and peer review are beyond your ken."

      Sorry Alvin, run if you like but you are wrong again. Those messages come from NASA RSS and Michael Hammer. Now if you have any conviction in your AGW philosophy, address them but don't discredit people just for pointing out the obvious [like O'Neill above] and publishing the side of the debate that you selectively ignore.

      report
    8. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin, instead of running from and ignoring good science I suggest you read Mike Hammer's paper on the increase of earth's energy loss to space.

      It is more of what Richard Lindzen has always claimed.

      And read that other article produced by NASA JPL on the errors in GRACE that will be remedied by GRASP in a few years time, that have a serious effect on the accuracy of land ice melt and SLR calculations.

      It all gets back to whether you are prepared to simply comfort and console yourself in the consensus or have an independent, open and enquiring mind.

      report
    9. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Link to the Hammer paper - as long as it is peer reviewed, please.

      I'm not running. I'm avoiding wasting my time talking to armchair amateurs who could take their questions to climate scientists if they really wanted to understand the science.

      It's what I do when I run up against something I don't understand - go to the source. Please take your questions to climate scientists working in this field and see what they have to say.

      You are in the strange position of not accepting observations and not accepting the science. I just can't see what scientific foundation you have for any position you hold on climate science.

      Anyway, as I said, I have wasted enough time with this and have far more constructive things to do than engage in this any longer.

      report
    10. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      You're not pointing out the obvious. You simply cannot be certain that there is no warming from the data you pick out. Claiming the certainty of no warming is a lie.

      report
    11. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "ignoring good science"

      This person complains about ignoring good science but has the hypocrisy to claim certainty, the antithesis of good science.

      report
    12. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin, thanks for that hubristic, science-and-evidence-free retort.

      And you only deal in peer reviewed science, you say.

      Peer review is merely a mechanism by which scientists keep a collective control over access to their quasi-private enterprise. One of the e-mails leaked from the University of East Anglia included this from Professor Phil Jones, referring to two papers that apparently falsified his work:- “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

      You need to stop being one of the gate keepers, broaden your mind a little and live in the real world.

      report
    13. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "broaden your mind a little"

      Yes, broaden your mind Alvin, accept that certainty is a part of good science.

      report
    14. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone

      While I observe from your comments that you are leaving this thread, and respect that decision, I do want to make the comment, as I do to all people who call for peer review. If it needs to be peer reviewed before you can read it, then the subject must be beyond you, and no amount of peer reviewing will make it understandable or relevant to you.

      This is one of the major factors which sets "climate" scientists apart, that and the fact that most of them are geographers and have…

      Read more
    15. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to John Nicol

      But John, you have to admit it does come in handy when you don't want people replicating, investigating or falsifying your work.

      report
    16. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim Inglis

      That is true, Jim, and it does make for competitive keenness. However, in the era I am talking about there was less competitiveness in that regard, and I think far less tendency towards plagiarism - people trusted each other.

      I went over seas to several leading world laboratories to work from time to time, for about a year each time. In all of those periods, I was totally integrated with the group, shared all of their knowledge up to the point of its being publishable, and was…

      Read more
    17. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Alvin Stone

      Alvin Stone

      I am not sure that we are seeing "continued impacts on a global scale".

      A lot of impacts, such as melting glaciers etc, are simply in keeping with the warming which has taken the globe to a temperature in which some ice will melt. If the earth now remained at this exact temperature, and with exactly the same temperature distribution over its surface, the ice would probably go on melting for x more years and then stabilise again. The same could probably be said for other phenomena…

      Read more
    18. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, I had left this thread but when this quote came through I had to respond because it shows just how off the map you and Jim are.

      "...one of the major factors which sets "climate" scientists apart, that and the fact that most of them are geographers and have no background in any branch of physics, let alone the radiation physics"

      That is astonishingly wrong and that you can say without reference and imagine it is true shows just how out of the scientific loop you are. I work with 140 climate…

      Read more
  13. Liz Minchin

    Queensland Editor at The Conversation

    Dear all,
    We've been asked why the comments on this article & a couple of other climate articles are now closed. The main reason is simple: basic lack of courtesy, with too many comments like "you are a bag of wind" "grow up" "shut up" etc - which sounds more like something you'd expect to hear in a primary school playground, not in debate between adults.

    That then generates a stack of email complaints, which get forwarded to us editors. The Conversation is still publishing right through the…

    Read more