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The hottest summer on record: experts react

Data analysis from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed last summer was the hottest on record, with January…

Australia just experienced the hottest summer on record. Leonard Matthews

Data analysis from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed last summer was the hottest on record, with January the hottest month recorded since 1910, when records began.

Average temperatures across the country came in at 28.6°C, more than one degree above normal, according to the Bureau, exceeding the previous record set in the summer of 1997-98 by more than 0.1°C.

The heatwave seen in the first three weeks of January was widespread, with 14 of the 112 locations used in long-term climate monitoring experiencing their hottest day on record during the summer– the largest number in any single summer.

Record temperatures were also set in two capital cities; Sydney with 45.8°C and Hobart with 41.8°C.

Summer rainfall was at its lowest since 2004-05 and Victoria had its driest summer since 1984-85 and South Australia since 1985-86.

“This summer follows a pattern of extremely hot summers in various parts of the world over the past few years,” the Bureau said in a statement.

“While the final numbers for the Southern Hemisphere summer will not be confirmed until mid- March, it was the hottest December on record for land areas of the Southern Hemisphere, followed by the hottest January.”

“The Bureau of Meteorology is the premier organisation in Australia for collecting and analysing observations around weather and climate,” said Professor Andy Pitman, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at University of New South Wales.

“And their systematic analysis of those data demonstrate a remarkable set of records around temperature extremes which the climate science community recognises is entirely consistent with global warming,” Professor Pitman said.

“The question I would ask is how much proof do you need? Because the evidence is definitive that extremes are changing over Australia as a consequence of global warming.”

The data is likely to have an impact on people’s perceptions of climate change, said John Cook, climate communication fellow at University of Queensland.

“Peoples’ attitude towards climate change is quite malleable, it’s influenced even by how hot it is on the day you ask them about climate change.

“Weather is how people experience climate change.”

Mr Cook said people often asked scientists to “prove climate change”, but this was really the wrong question.

“We already have many lines of evidence for it. This is not proof of it but it’s what we expect to see. What we’re experiencing is something scientists have been predicting for years.”

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46 Comments sorted by

    1. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      The question that should be asked is what methodology was used to calculate these numbers. I and others have analysed the same data set and come up with much lower numbers. In case you are unaware, BOM is fudging these numbers big time. Time they came honest.

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    2. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      It's obvious innit Pete ... these TV weather guys have a vested interest in boosting their ratings by frightening us all half to death... every night with their garish maps and hideous isotherms in centigrade. But we can't look away. Who can we trust? Where can we get that good old thick foil?

      Do you and your friends do real forecasts? Jo Nova doesn't ever get the rain right at all which is really disappointing.

      Why aren't they in gaol? Trust nothing and no one. Make up your own weather.

      That national security hotline again: 1800 1234 00. Ask for Cheryl.

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    3. Trevor McGrath

      uneducated twit

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      All pigs fed and ready to fly, Liar, liar, pants on fire. Why to deniers continue to populate sites such as these. I'm sure there must be pages where the none science people gather to discuss the merits of educating women, and do animals have rights, should slavery be abolished and should those with less than 1 million dollars be give the vote. At least at Uni if you don't pass the exams they get rid of you..... You can have whatever opinion you want, but you cannot change the facts.... we deal in facts here not opinion,, just go away. Cheers

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    4. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Trevor McGrath

      How does one respond to comments based on ignorance and prejudice! I simply pointed out the obvious. Listen boys - go away and do your own calculations. If you can replicate those produced by BOM then I would be the first to ask how you did it.

      Might I point out that reproducibility is central to scientific integrity. Mind you, I have to admit to getting tired of arguing with illiterate nongs who simply do not understand scientific method.

      But over to you boys. Delve into the numbers and reproduce the BOM numbers. All the data is available on BOM's website. Are you up to the challenge?

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Please provide your numbers and calculations Peter to substantiate your allegations of incompetence and implicit corruption against these terrorist weathermen.

      I'm sure you've done the wrok and perhaps even had it published somewhere... otherwise people would suspect you were just libelling a whole bunch of folks without any evidence.

      And you wouldn't think of doing anything like that would you - not a scientist and technologist like yourself - a man demanding evidence and proof?

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    6. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Oh No. Peter Sommerville making grand claims about his scientific expertise again!

      "I and others have analysed the same data set and come up with much lower numbers"
      "Where are your numbers?"
      "do your own calculations"
      LOL.

      Here is a bit of recent history. Sommerville after a rebuttal of his claims on ocean acidification claimed to have regular discussions with the world's leading scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

      "Please don't lecture me about the meaning of pH…

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      G'day Mike,

      I've actually been putting together a sort of "profile" of denialist ranters over the last few years. It is actually amazing how similar they are - as if cast from a mold.

      One of the overriding characteristics is a deep personal disappointment in their professional life - that their underlying brilliance has somehow been ignored - that they have not been allowed - by circumstance or, even worse, by the institutional power elite of academia - to reach and demonstrate their amazing…

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    8. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      The accuracy of the BOM when taking the statistics for the "Angry Summer" , was from 700+ sites but the "Kenskingom site'' thinks that if you use the 1972-3 summer records of the 112 sites used then , the average temperature was 4.25 less in 2012-13.
      The other gripe I have with the BOM is the air temperatures that have been recorded at the 14 tidal stations around Australia . I feel that if they graphed the mean temperatures over the 21 years since the tidal stations were developed, they would find that there has not been any upward trend . Find the data on the "WACLIMATE " site.
      When anyone can prove that the data that I have quoted is not true, then I would be pleased to congratulate the BOM

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  1. Sean Lamb

    Science Denier

    "experts react "
    Errr, surely you meant "the expert reacts"?
    Not that I don't have the greatest respect for Mr Cook, just that he lacks - on any objective criteria - qualifications to be termed an expert - except possibly in drawing cartoons.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      This is becoming fairly common behaviour from the attention seeking trolls here.

      When they find that their "look at moi, look at moi" behaviour is ignored, they either escalate the crank factor in their comments or insult the authors of the article.

      I suspect that Steve Biddle, author of "Toddler Taming" may have some insight in how to deal with Sean.

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      good thing you don't need a qualification to make tinfoil hats, or you might be on the dole

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    3. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      You mean can actually get paid for making tin foil hats? I thought I was offering it as a free public service.

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    4. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Sean Lamb

      no, they put them in show bags these days, you could compete with the chinese for 2 cents a hat.

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  2. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    Something I've noticed in the data for summer in various locations, is the number of days above 36 and 40 degrees. They may not be the hottest days ever, but you end up with a string of them in a month, far more than you would normally see.

    But, as John said here, this is pretty much what various climate change outlooks have been predicting. We're living climate change. Really time to get dinkum about eliminating our fossil fuel use.

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  3. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    A large dose of salt should be ingested when Professor Andy Pitman quotes temperatures.

    On the Radio National Off Track program on the 20th May 2012 Professor Pitman claimed Melbourne's temperature reached 48 C on Black Saturday. It did not. It reached 46.4 C just eclipsing the previous record set on Black Friday in 1939.

    When asked to explain the 1.6 degree increase, Professor Pitman responded, and I quote,

    ' Station 087113 - as any meteorologist knows - is Avalon airport, which I referred…

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "The Hottest Summer on Record - Experts React"

      Gerald Dean: I know nothing about the subject, so let me tell you why the experts are wrong!"

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    2. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      And your point is Mr Swinbourne?

      Both you and I may not be experts on the subject of summer temperatures. For that lay our trust in the experts, of whom a professor is the ultimate example.

      When a professor has blatantly 'cherry picked' data to bolster his argument in the past, he must expect firstly that we remember he has done so, and secondly, that he will be queried on his future statements in the same area of science.

      I trust you agree.

      Gerard Dean

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      I think my point was pretty clear.

      When it comes to science, I will listen to scientists who base their findings on evidence, rather than the opinions of ideologues who have no idea what they are talking about, yet arrogantly think they know more than the people who do.

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    4. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard,

      Do you think a large dose of salt should also be ingested when you read the opinions of non-scientific deniers, or do you reserve your scepticism for those with whom you have an ideological disagreement?

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  4. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Mr Cook is quoted as saying, ' the data is likely to have an impact on people’s perceptions of climate change.'

    I wonder whether this increasing perception of climate change will actually change people's behaviour so that they no longer choose to burn JetA1 fuel to fly overseas for pleasure.

    Before you harangue me, Mr Cook has also identified these duplicitous people when he commented recently on the The Conversation, ' "Then there's implicitary denial where people's behaviour does not align with their beliefs."

    One wonders whether the record summer heat will really change the Implicit Denier's love of JetA1 fuel.

    I doubt it.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Mr Scanlon

      The record is not broken, Mr Cook's coining of the phrase, 'Implicit Deniers' is on record.

      It's a pity that the many climate aficionados salivating over the temperature record don't translate their enthusiasm into staying home.

      Gerard Dean

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    2. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Still banging on about flying is causing climate change. I'll restate the facts; less than 2% of the increase of CO2 is caused by flying. Why are you so hung up on it?

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    3. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      And yet you still champion a position of denial whilst banging on about a minor part of a major problem. That is a broken record.

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    4. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      GDean is a habitual AGW denier and very wrong on many things, but he has a point here. Aviation is a major polluting process, 2% is not trivial, and it is no surprise our governments don't take the problem seriously when we don't.

      Bumperstickers, E-NGO memberships and even bike riding are merely symbolic actions, trivial in comparison to just one 'cheap' flight. We can't pretend our way out of this.

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard,

      As a managing director I'd be hoping you'd be after the Big Picture rather than grabbing one toe of the pachyderm.

      Now Australia (according to the most recent numbers I can get on the public interweb -2008) consumed 110,000 barrells of aviation fuel [http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?country=au&product=jet-fuel&graph=consumption] The graph shows a steady constant increase year on year for the last 35 years.

      Now fuel consumption by motor vehicles in Australia comes in at 18…

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    6. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Liam J

      Liam, I agree, but my point was that he is casting a wide aspersion against AGW of hypocrisy. Essentially he is making claims that are irrelevant to the argument at hand as a way of poisoning the well and derail the discussion. This tactic seeks to continue a debate that is over it delay response and fixing of the issue of AGW.

      In all honesty, if we get action happening then alternate energies suddenly become supported and jet fuel stops being an issue because we'll have a replacement.

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    7. Trevor McGrath

      uneducated twit

      In reply to Liam J

      Shipping is the problem = globalisation, it’s always cheap when you never have to account for the externalities. Cheers

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    8. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Liam J

      Liam J

      Thank you for complementing me. You are correct I am a habitual AGW denier, and I am very proud of that fact.

      The good thing about being a 'Denier' is that I don't have to suffer that critical feeling of hypocrisy that AGW Believers should when they CHOOSE to burn JetA1 fossil fuel to fly overseas for holidays.

      Remember, if you choose to believe that burning fossil fuels causes AGW warming AND then you choose to burn JetA1 fuel to fly to Europe for a holiday, you are a hypocrite.

      No if's, no but's - a hypocrite.

      Gerard Dean

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    9. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter

      It doesn't matter how much fuel Australians burn. What matters is that many commentators mock me and jeer at me for pointing out that the majority of JetA1 fuel burnt by Australians is FOR PLEASURE.

      But do you know the irony - the so called Angry Australian Summer has Climate Commissioners calling for urgent cuts to fossil fuel emissions. Surely this will prompt people to stop discretionary burning of fossil fuel for their own pleasure.

      What are the chances that the believers will stay home - ZERO.

      And that Mr Ormonde, is the problem.

      Gerard Dean

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    10. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerry - one of my dogs is an absolute curmudgeon. He sits and guards his bone for days, teasing the others and gnawing away. Bit like your jet fuel "fact" isn't it? Your one "contribution" to debate.

      Do you drive a car Gerry - probably a Hillman Minx I'd reckon. With venetians and nodding dog. But if you do, you are spewing out more greenhouse gasses per kilometer than the long distance flights of holiday makers. I provided you with the data the other day on another TC thread... back undeterred…

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    11. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      " the majority of JetA1 fuel burnt by Australians is FOR PLEASURE."

      You keep saying this Gerry - but is it true? Some data please ... some research rather than cranky assertion.

      And, in the grand scheme of things, it is less than 20% of our overall fuel related greenhouse emissions. That's not to defend jet travel or any other sort of fuel burning for that matter - just to point out that you are playing with a minor part of the problem... the shallow end of the issue. Bone up.

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    12. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter.
      It does not really matter whether the flights are for business or pleasure. What does matter is that more Australians are employed in tourism than mining. Tourism is also a large part of the GDP of poor third world countries. So ending aviation for pleasure is going to have economic impacts out of proportion to its impact on carbon mitigation.

      As Tim Scanlon points out (and Dean concedes) his role here is to "poison the well". His focus on aviation is because there is no ready substitute…

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    13. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      You have no evidence that zero "believers'" will stay home, and i know for a fact that at least one has.
      Thanks for the diversion though, it makes me wonder if the oldies travel boom might have some overlap with Abbotts grey army.

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    14. Liam J

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      You're right re derailing, don't mind me, i'm still a naif.

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  5. Neville Mattick

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Thank you for the facts above.

    This is a scary outcome and I have recorded from my own observations (and 'natural history' passed to me since 1880 when my ancestors first moved to this Station), that the 'window of opportunity' on Earth is narrowing by the day.

    The latest 'heat sump' baked plants and scrubs here on a large scale, never recorded before, fortunately the fires and heat ended with a glorious rain event, but not for everyone.

    Renewable Energy and end the mineral dependence or else.

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  6. Venise Alstergren
    Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

    photographer, blogger.

    CHARIS: I hope you realise that the world's most knowledgeable Climatologist is in stark disagreement with you-or can't you read? This Climatologist has spent years of painstaking research, has travelled huge distances to the far points of the compass, he has a double PhD in Climatology, Biology, Nuclear Physics and Science. I refer, of course, to Andrew Bolt, the infamous scribe employed by the Hun newspaper.

    To paraphrase Tony Abbott..."Your article is crap."

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      Now now Ms V, don't you go frightening Ms Charis here with your summoning up of Andrew Blot...

      I know nature abhors a vacuum - and in the absence of true denialists here today - you're just feeling the need to step into the breach.

      Seems like these old fogies really don't like being laughed at. With a bit of luck I've driven them off. Let us see.

      Funny how they travel in packs isn't it? Like flies.

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