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Winter heatwaves are nice … as extreme weather events go

If you’ve stepped outside at lunchtime in Sydney over the past few days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was more like early summer than the beginning of winter. On each of the past 23 days, the…

A record-breaking winter heatwave - which makes pretty nice weather for a dip. DAN HIMBRECHTS/AAPIMAGE

If you’ve stepped outside at lunchtime in Sydney over the past few days, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was more like early summer than the beginning of winter.

On each of the past 23 days, the temperature has reached highs in the mid-20s, exceeding 27C on May 25. This is characteristic of November, not May.

With the exception of May 3, no daily maximum at Sydney’s Observatory Hill has been below 20C. So far, May’s daily maximum temperatures have averaged just under 4C above normal. May 25 was an exceptional 8C warmer than normal.

These anomalously warm conditions are not confined to Sydney either – much of eastern Australia has experienced heatwave conditions during May, relative to the usual conditions.

Areas of Australia experiencing heatwave conditions as of May 24, 2014. www.scorcher.org.au

Winter heatwaves

Heatwaves, defined as sustained periods of unusually warm weather, can obviously occur during the cooler months as well as the hotter ones. Winter heatwaves – also called warm spells – are not as widely appreciated as summer ones, partly because their impacts on humans, animals and infrastructure is minimal.

Indeed, winter warm spells can be quite enjoyable. They might mean not needing to turn your heater on at home, or not wearing a coat on your way home from work, or even spending some time soaking up the sunshine on your lunch break.

But because of their attractiveness, warm spells often fly under the radar of most people’s perception of climate change.

Yet more frequent and longer warm spells in the cooler months is exactly what we expect to see as our planet continues to warm due to human activity.

Winter warmth on the increase

Two years ago, my colleagues and I analysed changes to heatwaves and warm spells around the world between 1950 and 2011. Both summer heatwaves and winter warm spells became longer, more frequent and more intense – but the changes were much bigger and faster for winter warm spells.

This is not happening just with warm weather. In fact, cool extreme temperatures seem to be increasing at faster rates than hot extremes. This means that hot nights are increasing in intensity and frequency at faster rates than hot days, and that warm winter days (whether they are part of a warm spell or not) are also increasing further and faster than hot summer days.

These findings are covered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Extremes, as well as its recent Fifth Assessment Report. Global climate models predict that these trends will continue, including in Australia.

Recent research has also shown that trends in extreme temperatures did not follow the rules of the warming “hiatus”, and that extreme global temperatures trended upwards between 1998 and 2013, despite global mean surface temperatures apparently taking a break from warming.

Nice weather… but harmful

Some people will find it hard to see any downside to the increase in balmy winter weather. But this trend – like increasing global average temperatures, sea level rise, and ocean acidification, to name a few – represents yet more evidence that we are altering our climate.

While you might be happy that your Ugg boots can stay in the wardrobe a bit longer, warm winter extremes can have adverse impacts too – and because they happen in the background, they may not become obvious until the damage is already done.

The growing intensity and frequency of winter warm spells is helping to lengthen Australia’s bushfire season, by drying out fuel. This is particularly concerning when coupled with low rainfall and high fuel loads, similar to the conditions the prompted New South Wales to experience severe bushfires as early as October last year.

Agriculture suffers too. Staple crops like wheat are fine-tuned to an optimum climate, and extreme heat in the crop’s growth and reproduction phase significantly reduces its yield. All wheat needs is just one day above 35C during wheat’s spring flowering stage can be enough to do significant damage to grain size and quality. Bad grain can affect the quality of our bread and (even more worryingly for some) our beer.

Winter warmth also worsens droughts. Extreme temperatures and rainfall have a complex relationship, however extreme temperatures, even in cooler months, can enhance evaporation since warm air can hold more moisture than cooler air.

This can reduce soil moisture, worsening droughts or even triggering new ones. Dry soils are also heavily linked to the intensity and frequency of summer heatwaves.

So while the unseasonal warmth may be pleasant, it is another link in the chain of climate change indicators. And the worst of the impacts are yet to come.

Join the conversation

153 Comments sorted by

    1. Frank Johansen

      Truck Driver

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Sorry to be trite about such a serious matter Alice, but you know their answer is going to the usual "Its all Labors fault".

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

      sole parent

      In reply to john tons

      I live in a rural area too john. The most some do to keep their connection to nature, is buy an expensive bunch of flowers.
      "Few appreciate that we are living on the razors edge" There are many who are very worried by the record heat around here. They know what it means, as the article mentions.
      Yes, and politicians should be held to account for their lack of appreciation to future budgets. Whether they don't want to or not.

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    3. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      news that a new poll will be released in June showing that we are becoming aware

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to john byatt

      Yeah - I think things are on the up - reason to believe peole are waking up a bit...

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    5. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      "why the government does not take climate change seriously."

      because the voters don't care. > 80% of them voted at the last against effective mitigation strategies.

      None of my peers care, none of my friends care, most of the people on here don't care. Sure, some say they care but it's rhetoric, they do nothing or very token gestures. Some say they care and mitigate but I would speculate here we're looking at way less than 1% ? Everything else is important, people use all sorts of distancing language to justify their actions in emitting. Imagine if people agitating to stop violence against women were giving women the occasional hard slap and imagine people agitating for effective reduced emissions actually emitting. ZOMG ! :)

      If we can't even get the people who say they agree with the Science and the need to do something to stop emitting... They won't even tick a box on a ballot paper let anything constructive in emissions reduction.

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    6. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Frank Johansen

      Nah, they'll tell her the climate is always changing, it's natural, been like that for million of years. :-)

      Alice, in Sydney back in 08/09 the mulberry tree was flowering twice a season and the tree was very stressed. Then at an uncles house his citrus trees started doing the same, got stressed, got diseased and he pretty well gave up and now they are dying. For 40 years he had no problems and their fruit was excellent and abundant every season.

      "ask Tony Abbott weather his government " ... was that a typo or a pun? Tis a foul weather blowing Abbott's way and it's getting worse ... natural variability or man-made you think? :-)

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    7. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      A little something I have noticed, is the LNP talking heads speaking about the importance of the Budget and making changes now or later it will cost us much more, and even our children will be left to pay the cost for inaction. So in one way they actually do have the principles correct, even if their 'actions" to solve it are detrimental to the nation as a whole and some sections of the community seriously damaged long term by their choices.

      Now if they can only use the very same rhetoric, but…

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    8. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      anecdotal report, an intelligent chap I met the other day, late 30s, reasonable education, alert regular human being ...... we were discussing wine growing and various places in Aus and the conversation came to Gw/CC and why Tassie is a good bet if he was to give it a go and if he ever had the $.... along the way I mentioned the IPCC reports - he asked "the IPCC what's that?"

      That new doco series on Showtime in the US with the movie stars etc, .... the first episode of the christian community church affected by severe droughts in the US midwest... one key woman in that asked "Climate change, what's that, I never heard of it." She was in her 40s I think, and had no idea. nether did most of the town in which she had lived. Didn't deny it, just didn't know what it was. They Voted, Republican of course. Scary huh?

      We, as in the world, have very long way to go yet.

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    9. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Trevor S

      There may be some value in looking at one aspect of the US political system. Proposition ballots (?), used at both State and local elections. eg California which voted for Budget measures several times, when the political parties refused to negotiate honestly ... ( I think the Governator got an ETS scheme in California on a Proposition ballot too - such things cannot be over-ridden with a change of Govt)

      and the other day two Counties in Oregan voted to Ban Genetically modified crops .. which…

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    10. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      What is so infuriating is the evidence, through processes like deliberative parliaments and similar, that if you get a group of average, everyday people together for a few days, give them access to experts on the subject and a chance to ask questions, they are remarkably able to come to sensible judgements and remarkably willing to make sacrifices if they can see that it needs doing.

      Climate change action could and should have been an absolute no brainer.

      Everybody now seems to love to blame the victims by attacking greenies or scientists or whoever for failing to communicate effectively or using the wrong messages. What gets missed is the huge, clever and very well funded and coordinated attack on the truth that has been carried out...

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    11. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix .. excuse the copy paste this is just SO TRUE ... it warrants repeating ...." you get a group of average, everyday people together for a few days, give them access to experts on the subject and a chance to ask questions, they are remarkably able to come to sensible judgements and remarkably willing to make sacrifices if they can see that it needs doing."

      and a Gold star for reminding me of this oft forgotten fact of life. I can get a bit riled up some days. After a decade of quietly now and then passing on a bit of CC news online here and there (usually OT) as heads up to others fwiw, and in person, with me only keeping a hobby eye on the progress of the science ipcc and the majority being disinterested I am a bit jaded now. oh well. Time will tell I guess Felix ... fingers crossed but very low expectations now as the time keeps ticking and the big issues of the day has become $7 medicare fee etc etc or we'll all be doomed forever.

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    12. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Trevor S

      "If we can't even get the people who say they agree with the Science and the need to do something to stop emitting... They won't even tick a box on a ballot paper"

      The current government didn't even need those people to vote for them. Just the people who say they don't agree with the science or don't care about it was sufficient to get them elected. http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Climate/Adapting/Annual-Survey-of-Australian-Attitudes-to-Climate-Change.aspx

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    13. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, "The governments 5% direct action is one inadequate thing". The government's Direct inAction Plan is not intended to achieve anything - it is window dressing, a rag to cover the nakedness of the Billy Tea Party's hatred of science and the whole Global Warming topic in particular. The existing (for a few weeks yet) ETS was inadequate at its initial settings, but it at least had the saving grace that it could be ramped up easily to meet future international agreements.
      Who said Phoney Tony was leading a mature government?

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    14. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, "politicians should be held to account" - in your dreams (and mine, for that matter).

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    15. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Sean, "I am a bit jaded now". Beware - that response is exactly what The Dark Side is hoping for: that ordinary, decent people will become weary of the fight and drop out of it. Remember the sage saying of Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing". Take heart, you are on the right side and doing well.

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    16. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Thank you Doug, I really needed that. Will take a break to recharge my batteries in nature. cheers

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    17. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "...they simply voted for a government that reflects their view."

      I think this is incorrect.

      Are the pollies following the public in this or is the public's perceptions influenced by the influential voices that are presumed to be well informed but are not? Does advertising, tankthink, PR, Lobbying have no part in creating perceptions?

      Certainly plenty of people can be reluctant to abandon the age old perception that climate is beyond humanity's capacity to change without good cause, yet…

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    18. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      "In the presence of purposeful, coordinated and well funded efforts to undermine that trust, is this simply "their view"? I don't think it is."

      I wasn't talking about the hypothetical of course. So they voted for the government that reflects their view as formed by all the processes, both corrupt and non-corrupt, that contributed to that view.

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    19. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris, I don't believe the Abbott government's actual position was ever put to the public or that if it had been, that the public would have uncritically supported it.

      I think we the public have been mislead and deceived with the assistance of an amoral and or incompetent mainstream media that has failed to be the reliable 'informers' upon which democracy depends. I can't agree that it was a true democratic choice, especially given that, pre election, we were not told what an Abbott led government truly intended with respect to climate change.

      It looked to me more like Abbott and team were deliberately unforthcoming and ambiguous.

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    20. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      "I don't believe the Abbott government's actual position was ever put to the public"

      So you don't think he ever said anything about getting rid of "a big new tax on everything"?

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    21. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "So you don't think he ever said anything about getting rid of "a big new tax on everything"?"

      The official and stated position before the election was that they could achieve emissions targets more cost effectively by other means, not that they intended to - as much as they could - purge climate as a policy consideration.

      An intention of killing carbon pricing was never presented as a clear, unambiguous and openly promoted position by Abbott and team against science on climate, action on climate and renewable energy.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Trevor S

      Trevor, "why the government does not take climate seriously".
      As I said, someone within the media should ask them.
      Every other country in the world except Canada and ourselves are moving forwards , not backwards. I don't care if none of your friends care. I don't care if denier business is writing our policy. China yesterday gave our government a swipe for threatening to dismantle our renewable energy target, and programs. I'm allowed to question the governments policy weaknesses, other countries are questioning their stance and, what's left within independent media here should do the same.
      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/euro-ambassadors-shocked-by-australias-anti-climate-stance-89032
      http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/30/solar-energy/abbott-pedals-against-global-climate-awakening
      http://www.commodities-now.com/news/power-and-energy/16857-landmark-russia-china-gas-deal-as-australia-moots-its-renewables-target.html
      Violence against women.....?

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    23. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      That is why I make the distinction between people who know about cc and those who don't. None of this stuff about deniers.

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  1. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    Despite it not actually being winter yet and for much of the planet, winter uis considered to start about three weeks into June, the phrase of an " Indian Summer " has been around for many decades.
    Our natural variations continue to be written off it seems and getting twenties temps in May is not all that uncommon.
    Nor is it uncommon to have unseasonally colder weather, early May in Queensland having an unusually cool snap which lasted a couple of weeks, quite likely because of the later April/early May snow falls, there having been snow in Orange NSW and on a drive along the Bylong Way between Bathurst and the Hunter Valley I encountered Sleet for some of the drive.
    I can also recall bicycling picnics in June Indian Summer weather, all these variations having been with us and likely to remain regardless of the extent of any other cyclical climate changes.

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    1. Lynne Black

      Latte Sipper

      In reply to Greg North

      Yes, but Greg, these "warm spells" are actually breaking records here. So whilst "Indian summers" have been around for a long time, we are currently moving into uncharted climate territory.

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    2. Stephen Prowse

      Research Advisor

      In reply to Greg North

      You must be having a little laugh! As an engineer, you must be used to looking at data, not looking out the window of a car to determine long term climate trends. So when you look at the temperature data over the last 100 years, what do you see?

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, anecdotal stuff are inadequate and insufficient to base a case that we have always experienced warm and cool spells.

      Statistics mate, data and trend are the only admissible scientific evidence.

      Surely retired engineers know this?

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    4. In reply to Greg North

      Comment removed by moderator.

    5. Eden Ukrivljen

      Principal Retro-encabulator at Sinusoidal Deplenurators

      In reply to Greg North

      "I can also recall bicycling picnics in June Indian Summer weather, all these variations having been with us and likely to remain regardless of the extent of any other cyclical climate changes."

      Thank you for this erudite addendum to the IPCC's work on extremes.

      Australia needs a science minister of your calibre. Someone who can capture the complexity of the arguments in short pithy homespun soundgrabs. Somebody who can brief a government that is normally just much too busy to think about science.

      I'm sure one or two of our eleceted members occasionally find their way onto the conversation. I hope that they find a few spare moments to gain an understanding of climate science from your lillustrative memories.

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    6. Donald Newgreen

      Research Group Leader

      In reply to Greg North

      As a child I never saw a cockroach in Melbourne. They were for Sydney. Nor a crested pigeon or a magpie lark--they were for Adelaide. I see these warmer clime Aves every day now in inner Melbourne. As a child I suffered from hayfever, aka seasonal or spring rhinitis. This came on each year in September-October, making exam study difficult in the 1950s and 60s. I still get it, but, it crept gradually earlier into August in the 90s and in 2013 the onset was last week of July. By the law of anecdotes…

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    7. Zeo maz

      Untrained Monkey.

      In reply to David Menere

      Isnt that what happened in England and America where they had cool extremes?

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Zeo maz

      Yes, oh person who is too chicken to use his real name - occasional, localised cold extremes are exactly what is to be expected...and your comment, by the way, is simply a zombie meme that has been dealt with repeatedly.

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    9. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I've just worked out why Greg thinks it was common to have temperatures in the 20s in May when he was a boy.

      Farenheit!

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    10. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Greg North

      getting twenties temps in May is not all that uncommon. .. really? 5-8 C above normal for weeks on end? Across the entire south east region, and the central Australia ... COMMON you say Greg?

      OK, now Prove that .. show me the evidence it's COMMON in Figures from the BOM... and how common May 2014 is with the known temp records in this nation. ball's in your court. Put up!

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    11. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      LOL ... good one.

      I count 18 replies to Greg as of writing .... and STILL he won't listen to any of them???

      Greg says "natural variations continue to be written off.."

      Not so Gregory ... SCIENCE keeps getting written off by people who refuse to look at it because it doesn't fit their biblical sized beliefs about the world.

      For those with grandchildren who have also spent a lifetime of working in an industry that has inadvertently caused the problem it is even worse. Denial is the first phase of a 5 stage process called Grief. Cognitive Dissonance also plays an important psychological role is shoring up people's no longer sustainable personal Biases and Beliefs as well. Research it.

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    12. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Stephen Prowse

      So when you look at the temperature data over the last 100 years, what do you see? .. warm memories of a lifetime working as a Public Servant in Victoria's electricity supply industry!

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    13. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Zeo maz

      "Isnt that what happened in England and America where they had cool extremes?"

      You mean this last winter just gone? If so NO .. that "weather" was not normal either, but another reflection of climate changes causing abnormal weather conditions.

      iow it wasn't a normal winter that was simply colder than normal due to natural variation. Far more than that. easy intro http://climatestate.com/2014/01/08/yale-climate-jetstream-and-polar-vortex/ then research it further, this has been predicted…

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    14. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Sean, "STILL he won't listen to any of them" - a troll never listens, which is why he never learns. What can you expect from a 'Phoney Tony and the Billy Tea Party' apologist?

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    1. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to David Holmes

      "The more people are able to experience anomalous weather, not in terms of 'comfort' but in terms of some understanding of the science, the more likely we are to get government policies that effectively address climate change. "

      Thank you David.

      I also live in Melbourne and have been appreciating the comfort of this near record breaking warm spell. Another record broken, amid a recent history of altered trends.

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/2014-SkS-Weekly-News-Roundup_21B.html

      What will it take before our leaders accept the reality of human impact on the environment? How far? Past tipping point?

      Our government claims a monetary crisis, while ignoring the very real crisis that is here and now.

      I truly despair.

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    2. Luke Menzies

      PhD Researcher, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at Australian National University

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      It's a extremely fraught reality.

      That people have to "experience anomalous weather" in order to do something about it, it force the government to take the issue seriously.

      Your despair is warranted Dianna - climate change has fallen far from both the political and media agendas.

      I read Bradley Opdyke's sobering piece last week on The Conversation - We can now only watch as West Antarctica’s ice sheets collapse - and thought that we currently are in a strange reality where alarming studies like this are trumped by #winkgate etc.

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    3. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Luke Menzies

      Have to admit to being a little distracted by "winkgate" last week, however, can still regain focus on the here and now and despair?

      Cannot believe our 'leaders' are so blind...

      Antidote for despair? I can write and post as well.

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    4. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      HI Dianna, you can also copy and paste quotes and links such as from this article by Sarah (and Lukes video series on Communication he did) , paste them into an email and send it off to your senators and ministers, and local members in both state and federal branches .... matters not who you vote for or prefer, write to all be they in Government or not, but incoming messages to the PM down are noted and tallied .. and the STAFF pay attention. Like VO5 - It won't happen overnight, but it will happen…

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    5. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, "What will it take before our leaders accept the reality of human impact on the environment?" It will take until someone works out how to profit from global warming. As soon as there is a sniff of profit, watch the feeding frenzy begin.

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  2. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Some horticulture is helped by cold winters such as apple and pear growing. If we don't get cold conditions it will be interesting to see how next year's crop turns out. Fruit trees in Tasmania are producing buds early thinking it is spring. I don't know if they can repeat that three months from now. If snow skiers miss out this year too bad. A small ski area near me (Mt Mawson) is already too low at 1250m altitude.

    What if summer is also abnormally warm? Some think solar panels will power air conditioners in older homes but most homes don't have it and then there is the prospect of unbearably hot night time temperatures. Then there's fire risk and the cost of desalination. It will be interesting to see how our problem denying government responds.

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  3. Hassan el-Muhammed

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    "This is particularly concerning when coupled with low rainfall and high fuel loads, similar to the conditions the prompted New South Wales to experience severe bushfires as early as October last year."

    Were there any severe bushfires in the Blue Mountains after October - a big NO. Those bushfires were caused by fallen power lines, the army and an arsonist. How can that be attributed to global warming?

    Youmention the fuel load. The Rural Fire Servic has to jump through hoops to light a BBQ, let alone undertake a fuel reduction programme, due to greenie councils, resident action groups etc.

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Hassan el-Muhammed

      "Were there any severe bushfires in the Blue Mountains after October"

      Er, it finally started raining. You know the wet stuff that falls from the sky.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Hassan el-Muhammed

      @Moderators

      This person is an obvious troll. I would not normally care if right-wing wingnuts hide behind fake identities but there is a large element of racism is this anonymous coward's choice.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Hassan el-Muhammed

      Hassan, it's not just fuel load. When Australian plants do not get a large amount of winter rain, as happened in the Blue Mountains last winter, the percentage of volatile oils(/water) in leaves becomes increased. You can hold lighter up to a leaf and off the fire goes, and fuel loads become immaterial. The shrubs grasses and trees are the fuel.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Hassan el-Muhammed

      One more thing Hassan, Parks has been burning for months now, State Forests do not. All Local Councils in NSW are obliged to get together with the RFS and Parks every year to plan burn-offs. And then do them.
      Do you have any examples you can substantiate your claims.. "due to greenie councils."
      I'm surrounded by State Forest and NP's, and it's not National Parks I fear. The State Forests near me consist of repeatedly logged steep hillsides with trees occurring every few metres. These youngish trees suck up so much water the soils they live in are regularly dryer than in untouched forests. The risk of crowning is considerably higher in these forests.

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    5. Mike Jubow

      Forestry nurseryman at Nunyara Wholesale , Forestry consultants, seedling suppliers.

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Are you saying, Chris, that," wet stuff that falls from the sky" is not vodka? It has all the appearances of it so it must be so.

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    6. alfred venison

      records manager (public sector)

      In reply to Hassan el-Muhammed

      why do you guys even give him the oxygen of a response. people like him should be ignored - racist moniker & idiotic comment. notice how he's gone now, he likely didn't read any of your eloquent expositions. people like him should be shunned & ignored. they're immune to your consultations. -a.v.

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    7. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Hassan el-Muhammed

      Alhamdulillah, Hassan el-Muhammed

      "Those bushfires were caused by fallen power lines, the army and an arsonist. How can that be attributed to global warming?" Great question Hassan.

      Do you have or know of a gas BBQ? When you turn on the gas and light a match, why does the BBQ work after your match goes out?

      What caused the heat to cook the hallal lamb and chicken on the bbq ... the match or the fuel in the gas cylinder. Think about it, and learn some more about the bushfires last year…

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    8. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Milk it for some fun? I'm might use it as a nym on Bolts blog ... hehehe

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    9. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      and there was nothing left to BURN !!! Tales years to regenerate hey Chris.

      Recent arrivals from the middle east are not that used to TREES or Shrubberies. No eucalyptus with volatile flammable oils in the leaves back and wood. and camphor laurels which can explode like a bomb in some parts like nth NSW. He may have just arrived and is not yet up to speed with the local fauna and flora.
      ( smile )

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    10. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to alfred venison

      Um, says Mr Alfred Venison with an apple in his face wearing a Bowler hat... I am blown away by your instant credibility. LOL Do you do the silly walk too? Please upload a Video. hehehe

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    11. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Sean, "I'm might use it as a nym on Bolts blog ... hehehe" - you shouldn't tease that nice Mr. Blot and don't give your sandwiches to that monkey - oh, it's alright, he's a Prime Minister.
      What a zoo we live in.

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    12. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Thanks Doug. It sure is a Zoo, and I need to stay away from that poison of Andrew Bolt and co forever.

      OT -- I emailed this complaint to news ltd today about a posters nym: I am wondering if this is really necessary and acceptable to the Standards of News Ltd? "RightWingNuclearArmedDeathRabbit"

      Response: "All of our comments are pre-moderated before publishing for defamation, taste, abuse and other issues that may breach site guidelines. Our moderators do not necessarily agree with the comments…

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    13. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Apologies to all for the OT rave here. been listening to parliament today on and off to re the Budget and well it's all got a bit too much for me. Tomorrow will be a better day. thx au revoir

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  4. Steve Hindle

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    Anecdotally a friend of mine who had a market garden business remarked that a few good frosts during Winter always reduced his need for pesticides in Spring.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Yup, look at the boreal forest die back in places like Canada for a big-scale illustration of just that effect.

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    2. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      "a few good frosts during Winter always reduced his need for pesticides in Spring. "

      We have a friend who lives on the coast, we're 30km inland and 250M ASL. We get the occasional frost in winter (albeit last year only one and not much of one) She was envious (her words), cabbage moth destroy most of her veggie garden... let alone cane toads, she gets them we don't (Northern NSW.)

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  5. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Brilliant, thank you for sharing, and love the scorcher website

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    1. David Osmond
      David Osmond is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Wind Engineer

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      I agree with the others, a neat web site. Thanks Sarah.
      I guess it would be interesting if you also included areas that have also experienced 3 or more days of extreme cold weather.
      Plus stats showing the cumulative area that have experienced extreme hot vs that for extreme cold. Would be nice to have a resource where you can quickly look at the ratio of extreme hot to extreme cold events for the last year/s.

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    2. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to David Osmond

      I agree this would all be very useful information! I only had a small budget for the first iteration of scorcher - we're currently undergoing some research on user perception of the website, and I hope to develop it soon with more resources that are easier to understand. thanks for your feedback David.

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  6. Brian Westlake

    Common Sage

    The recent "warm spell" has surpassed the record set in 1974 - which so happened to be during an El Nino. I guess that there is no correlation that we are currently entering another El Nino period ?

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    1. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Brian Westlake

      Hi Brian, we do generally experience warmer conditions during El Nino, however El Nino impacts are felt during late spring/early summer. It is not active this time of year. Everything you're hearing about El Nino at the moment is about it's development, and what we can expect in a few months' time.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Brian Westlake

      The ENSO cycle is a natural variation (which may itself be intensifying due to AGW). Typically we get an El Nino every 2 to 7 years. But as Sarah Perkins notes in her article, this winter warm spell is part of a long term trend of "longer, more frequent and more intense" warm spells.

      "Two years ago, my colleagues and I analysed changes to heatwaves and warm spells around the world between 1950 and 2011. Both summer heatwaves and **winter warm spells became longer, more frequent and more intense** – but the changes were much bigger and faster for winter warm spells."

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    3. Colin Trainor

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Brian Westlake

      1973-1976 was a record-breaking La Nina period:

      http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/lnlist/

      "Following a relatively intense El Niño, and in perhaps the longest sustained period of La Niña conditions in the instrumental record, this strong La Niña had a strong effect on Australia, with excessive rainfall over much of the country. For the period from June 1973 until March 1976 (Figure 1), rainfall was above average over virtually the entire country, with more than half of the area east of WA recording its highest rainfall on record for this particular 34-month period. The particularly impressive feature of the rainfall during this period was the complete lack of significant dry periods; only two short periods are worth noting – June to July 1974 and May to June 1975. With an area-average of 760 mm, 1974 was Australia’s wettest year on record, while 1973 (651 mm) and 1975 (602 mm) were third and fifth wettest respectively. "

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  7. Simon Mansfield

    logged in via Facebook

    It's "above average" not "above normal". An entirely different meaning.

    And the Blue Mountains usually burn in Spring around October/November - that's what the fire record average points to.

    And as to "fine-tuned to an optimum climate" - if only the world was static and stuck in an endless 1920s groundhog day.

    Does anyone actually edit these articles before they are published.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Simon Mansfield

      <It's "above average" not "above normal"> An entirely different meaning which you are unable to specify. Semantic trolling. The intent of the sentence is clear.

      The 2013 NSW bushfires were associated with record breaking temperatures, the point that is made in the article
      "We have just experienced our hottest 12 months on record. New South Wales has experienced the hottest September on record, days well above average in October and exceptionally dry conditions. These record hot, dry conditions…

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    2. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Simon Mansfield

      for the record, it was the editor's decision to change "above average" to "above normal".

      and as for crops being reliant on specific "optimum climate" conditions, there is a wealth of literature out there on this topic, and how it impacts harvesting and yield.

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    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Simon Mansfield

      It is significant enough to be termed a heatwave, so average, normal, these terms do not matter unless you are suggesting that when the temperature is extreme for at least 3 days in a row this is normal

      Define Heatwave: A heatwave occurs when the temperature is extreme for at least 3 days in a row

      For more info, see http://scorcher.org.au/faq

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    4. Simon Mansfield

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      The inference about fires in the Blue Mts during October - is that this is unusual. When the fire record clearly shows that it is entirely "normal" to have fires in the Blue Mts in October. And that these fires are the result of the normally dry winter conditions that are typical of the climate around the Sydney region.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Simon Mansfield

      Yes, Simon, professional scientists write them based on extensive empirical evidence and professional editors check them for accuracy.

      The problem is with your grasp of reality, not the article.

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      In the interests of settling the potential pedantry, is there really any meaningful difference between 'average' and 'normal'.

      Simon seems to be much aeriated about this distinction, though he fails to suggest what the difference might be, and I'm damned if I can think of any difference.

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Simon Mansfield

      Simon, if you blow more air into a balloon it becomes a bigger balloon. It doesn't turn into a rhinoceros.

      Up to certain possible tipping points, it's a bit like this with climate change.

      Nobody has said that there being SOME fires in October is, per se, odd. What thery are pointing out is that there have been more, bigger and earlier than the norm.

      Similarly with dry or warm spells in autumn or winter, nobody is saying these have never happened before. Nobody is even saying these are necessarily…

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    8. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      @Simon Mansfield

      Former Rural Fire Services commissioner and Blue Mountains resident Phil Koperberg disagrees with you.

      "The former NSW environment minister and current chairman of the State Emergency Management Committee was yesterday appointed Blue Mountains Emergency Recovery Co-ordinator.

      He said there had been worse bushfire disasters in the Blue Mountains - in 1952, 1957 and 1968 - but what was unprecedented was it happening in October.

      "It's not the worst, but it is the earliest…

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Thanks Mike - I was get caught up in a wierd internal, almost-Jesuitical epistemological debate with myself, trying to come up with a distintion that had any even vaguely pertinent meaning in this context.

      But Simon said it was an 'entirely different meaning', so I'd love to hear his arguments.

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    10. Brian Westlake

      Common Sage

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      The "mean daily temperature", is the sum of the high temperature and the low temperature divided by 2 - the average is a different calculation again.

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    11. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      Indeed Sarah and as comments' here talk about their comfort with acceptable Wild Fire behaviour; I for one can confirm there is nothing to be complacent about in NSW about this risk.

      Additionally our food supply is directly impacted, in just a few short years the ability to operate livestock, meet seasonal expectations and markets has narrowed significantly.

      So whilst the writer might have his/her satiety and border security met as of May 2014, that may not be the case 2015 and on.

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    12. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gary Luke

      LOL. Another "skeptic" who claims a "entirely different meaning" but cannot say what that different meaning is. Gary's dog is too busy mistaking Gary's leg for an object of affection to be interested in running.

      While we can all agree that Sarah's original "above average" should have been kept by the editor, the intent of the article has not changed. Normal can also mean "the average or mean", http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/normal

      So why all the fuss? Because climate science deniers have no scientific arguments, they try and create controversy when there is none. It is all they have!

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    13. Gary Luke
      Gary Luke is a Friend of The Conversation.

      thoroughly disgusted

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      'Average' has a definition in statistics. 'Normal' doesn't. If that's not known, then with such a grand ignorance of what's relevant in stats how can anyone trust their own judgment about the statistics of temperature time series. It's not a matter of pedantry. It's a simple matter of whether someone has the required ability to go past blind trust in those who call themselves the guru or can make their own judgments about numerical information.

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    14. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gary Luke

      I presume it would be below your dignity to actually explain that difference to the rest of us?

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    15. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gary Luke

      Yup - pure fatuous nonsense, as expected, Gary.

      As the author noted, it was an editor who made that change. We simply suggested that the language didn't matter much in terms of conveying the meaning.

      Have you actually bothered to examine the extensive and high-quality statistical data backing the author's claims? She gives references to published articles. Would you like to check and critique those or is all you are capable of a nasty piece of abuse based on an irrelevant piece of linguistic pedantry?

      But thanks for demonstrating the absolute absence of substance behind your abuse.

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    16. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      By the way, Gary, what does 'normal' mean 'when applied to a statistical series of data'?

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    17. Simon Mansfield

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      Ok - so an editor changed it. I'd ask for it to be changed back.

      I now see what you mean by "optimum climate" in relation to specific crops.

      But for fires to occur in October in the Blue Mountains is "normal" potential fire behaviour - in the right years - and the right years happen often enough over a 100 year period. With the worst fires mostly occurring in Spring.

      A long "Indian Summer" in May is well within the definition of "normal" weather for the Australian south east - in the right years.

      I agree we are bouncing around at the observed extremes of the Sydney records - but we have bounced around these extremes before - and most many decades ago - according to BOM details for Sydney at Ob Hill.

      I do like your heatwave site at http://scorcher.org.au/

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    18. In reply to Gary Luke

      Comment removed by moderator.

    19. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Simon Mansfield

      Simon, it's the cumulative nature of extremes that demonstrates that things are not within normal variation range. The data mentioned here, on their own, might still be within parameters, but this set of data is only one among many that are right at the extreme, if not beyond.

      You have to look at the full picture, not attack it piece by piece.

      By the way, apropos of your repeated comments about fires in October, did you actually read the Koperberg quotes Mike provided?

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    20. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gary Luke

      Even Luke's pedantry is wrong! He claims "In statistical analysis ... 'average' is well defined.

      That is actually not true, it can also be used as a generic term. Which is why statisticians more usually talk about the "mean".

      "In colloquial language average usually refers to the sum of a list of numbers divided by the size of the list, in other words the arithmetic mean. However, the word "average" can be used to refer to the median, the mode, or some other central or typical value. In statistics, these are all known as measures of central tendency. "
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Average

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    21. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gary Luke

      No, Gary, that is utter crap.

      Does the fact that we were comfortable with a little linguistic variation in a non-technical article indicate that we were unable to understand the statistics underpinning the article's conclusions, as you suggest? No it doesn't. It indicates that we considered the distinction to make no difference to the truth.

      The statistics are valid and clear (and you have still not had the guts to criticise them). The presentation is perfectly factual and reasonable.

      Your 'arguments' are nugatory, irrelevant and purely pedantic.

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    22. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "the word "average" can be used to refer to the median, the mode, or some other central or typical value."

      There is also geometric mean.

      Gary would be well advised to shut up.

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    23. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "Gary would be well advised to shut up"

      about the meaning of these words of course.

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    24. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Simon Mansfield

      "A long "Indian Summer" in May is well within the definition of "normal" weather for the Australian south east - in the right years."

      I wouldn't call unprecedented in 160 years of records "normal". Melbourne smashed its previous record of 10 days in a row above 20 deg C in May by 3 days! 21.7 deg C at 4.30 am this morning BTW.

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    25. Mike Jubow

      Forestry nurseryman at Nunyara Wholesale , Forestry consultants, seedling suppliers.

      In reply to Gary Luke

      So Gary, do you think that a definition that contrasts 'normal' and 'average' will prove that global warming doesn't exist? Trying to nit-pick minor and, might I say, irrelevant details, is not going to change one single scientific fact. If you don't accept the science, I am sorry for you and your ilk, but it is not going to make it all go away. Climate change is happening, so, start reading up on the real science and forget about the hardly literate anti-AGW bloggers.

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    26. Gary Luke
      Gary Luke is a Friend of The Conversation.

      thoroughly disgusted

      In reply to Mike Jubow

      I made no comment here related to global warming. My comments here have only been about evidence by their misuse of mathematical concepts that some people with extra strong opinions don't have the necessary ability to appraise numerical information.

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    27. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gary Luke

      There is also the "harmonic mean"

      "In mathematics, the harmonic mean (sometimes called the subcontrary mean) is one of **several kinds of average**. "
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_mean

      And we also have "weighted" averages.

      Oh the irony of Gary Luke lecturing on "mathematical concepts" he does not understand.

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    28. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gary Luke

      To which we have responded. In a technical sense, there isa difference, but this is not a problem because the technical evidence upon which this article is based is correct and validated professionally; in a communication sense, the meanings are so close to being the same it doesn't matter.

      You're simply clutching at straws.

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    29. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gary Luke

      No Gary, I don't have the necessary ability to personally appraise numerical information - that's why I rely on proper scientific processes and trust that, if it's been through careful analysis, peer review an dprofessional publication, it's very likely to be technically correct.

      This is much the same way that I rely on a mechanic, doctor, electrician, plumber, etc.

      What do you do?

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  8. Neville Mattick
    Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Thank you for this article and the analysis especially we need to read the bit about agriculture.

    I am concerned about what I see in the environment here, extended heat at the wrong time, reduced livestock fertility, drying of the environment, surface moisture levels falling rapidly to produce dust from minor disturbance (ie: sheep dog leaves a choking trail of dust in paddocks with a high ratio of ground cover or pasture).

    As a fire-fighter we also need to be alarmed about Winter fire (totally off season for this area) and the future Spring - almost unrecognisable as that season actually.

    But what would I know - localised observation and production over fifty years!

    Look at the direction the Nation is headed, large scale Renewable Energy all now sitting on their hands again with only one farm under construction in NSW at this time due to the endless COALition hurdles and stumbling blocks put in place - frankly it is pathetic.

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  9. john byatt

    retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

    Hiatus, taking a break is not quite true, the hiatus was a slow down , eg the last decade was 0.15DegC warmer than the previous which was 0 .17DegC warmer than the previous, which was 0.17DegC warmer than the previous etc, Gavin Schmidt NASA 2013

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

      sole parent

      In reply to john byatt

      The apparent slowdown certainly did not occur in the Arctic, and not at all if looking at Land-Ocean Temperatures, " Latitudes Land-Ocean Temperature Change by Latitude" NASA GISS
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-currier/happy-new-warming-year_b_4528824.html
      Like you I'm tired of this term (I think).
      Second part if your interested
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-currier/happy-new-warming-year-pa_b_4532998.html

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  10. Chris O'Neill

    Retired Way Before 70

    "extreme global temperatures trended upwards between 1998 and 2013, despite global mean surface temperatures apparently taking a"

    statistically insignificant

    "break from warming."

    Let me know when the slowdown in global warming is statistically significant. I won't be holding my breath waiting for it to happen.

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  11. Gavin Melles

    Lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology

    Thanks for this great article pointing out a fundaental short-sightedness in politics (in general) and society. I have had numerous people at my institution comment on how they're enjoying the warm weather. It is this fundamental short-sightedness of the general population (and politicians) regarding the mid and long term that is the opposite of science thinking - climate not weather matters. Averages and trends that data help us discover (with analysis). The economist Herbert Simon talked of bounded rationality - a nicer term for something similar. The fundamental problem in the current climate (pun intended) is to convince people that their behaviour today matters tomorrow.

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  12. Sean Douglas

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Well done Sarah Perkins .. I was wondering when someone would pick this up and make a telling point about it. Excellent article, really! You've covered so much here.

    RE "....despite global mean surface temperatures apparently taking a break from warming." The operative world there being "apparently" imho. There are in fact some serious limitations in the GMSTs collection and GCMs (climate modeling). Nothing is perfect in climate science and GMSTs is one big example. Many papers have been published…

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    1. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Many thanks Sean! Yes I have heard of the Cowtan and Way analysis, which confirms what we've known for ages - the differential warming of the earth. I use the term "apparently" through gritted teeth - the whole "hiatus" argument has been blown well out of proportion as it's been portrayed in the media that the warming has stopped - the general public seem to forget that IF there is little or no trend since 1998, there is still all the warming that occurred since the industrial revolution - we haven't lost that. nor have we lost the CO2 in the atmosphere that's accumulated during this time, and will continue to accumulate. There are physical reasons behind the apparent slowing of the trend of average temperature in non-polar regions, but when the polar regions are considered, average temperature change has not slowed overall, and indeed, as Seneviratne et al 204 in Nature Climate Change showed, the extremes have kept on increasing.

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    2. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      Speaking as someone who is interested in the science and concerned about the problems we are creating for ourselves, thanks for this article. Keep up the good work. I'm convinced the science will win out eventually and the outcomes you and others are warning about will become self-evident to most reasonable people. Trouble is the damage will have been done. Meanwhile the fools intent on denial and the shortsighted politicians who pander to them will never be held accountable. It's such an irresponsible, wasteful and ultimately tragic legacy to hand on to the next generation.

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    3. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, when it comes to extreme myth making about the current Fed Budget the LNP have actually been saying things just like this which you wrote: "It's such an irresponsible, wasteful and ultimately tragic legacy to hand on to the next generation."

      So they do *get* the principle itself, then they willfully ignore it along with the NUMBERS & MATHS about Climate Science itself. I too believe that nothing serious will happen globally (the LNP deniers are not the only recalcitrant on this issue…

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    4. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      I understand where you're coming from Sarah. a PS comment fwiw https://theconversation.com/winter-heatwaves-are-nice-as-extreme-weather-events-go-27172#comment_388299

      and really think this is very important and might make a difference if taken seriously to heart by all involved. (thinking globally here not only Aus. plus Will & Luke's recent science communication project)

      Nov 2013 Prof Peter Ward on Science literacy, convincing the public about CC realities, the URGENT need for Cultural Change…

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    5. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Hi Sean, all very valid points. Thanks for the link as well. There is no doubt that warnings from researchers and the IPCC are underestimating the problems but it never ceases to amaze me how the denialists insist on painting those under-estimations as being over the top and extremist.

      While I think reforestation is one quick and easy way to help sequester CO2, the drying climate in south-eastern Australia has me wondering about the value of such an exercise because of the increased frequency of…

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    6. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, "I think we'll have to resort to everything that has a net positive regarding the extraction of CO2 and/or other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere."

      I fully agree. Thanks for your feedback. Whilst Australia appears Neanderthal at this time, it won't always be so (well I hope not). The wheel will turn eventually. This site is another isolated piece of "net positives" going on. Letting others know about it is another net positive, and it all adds up. And we in Oz are only a small slice of…

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    7. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Hi Sean, I would like to think that eventually, sanity will prevail and regard for reason and science will be restored. Our brainless PM might be able to fool some of the people most of the time… but evidence and reality always triumph in the end. I just hope the delays in Australia only extend to the life of the current government.

      Hopefully some backbenchers will evolve and develop a backbone eventually recognising clean energy combined with efficiencies and conservation are the only answers for…

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    8. Sean Douglas

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Cheers Blair .... thx, good to see you here and for what you share. I didnt know about the RET and the states. It's something at least.

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    9. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, "I just can't see a lot happening in Australia, at least at a federal government level until the current mob get the flick". It's even worse than that: we won't see any meaningful action until the voting public applies political pressure - to all parties - to take action. The prospect of the damage resulting from a super El Niño forming this summer is daunting, but sufficiently bad outcomes might just wake up the sleepers. No party is going to take action 'because it is the right thing to do', but they will take action if their presence at the trough is threatened by an angry populace. All hail Super El Niño, the new hope for our salvation.

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    10. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Sean Douglas

      Thanks Sean. I'm hopeful that with South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales supporting the RET verbally and in South Australia's case, via meaningful wind energy developments, along with the ACT pushing wind and solar hard with proposed projects, the science denialists in the federal government will think twice before trying to kill the RET off. Unfortunately Dick Warburton is unimpressed by evidence and anything that refutes his chronic climate change denial position so it's possible that reason, evidence and common sense will be tossed out of the window in the name of ideology and propping up the fossil fuel industry.

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    11. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, there are times when I think that we will only see positive action on climate change after some sort of cyclone or tornado goes through the North Shore of Sydney, flattening mansions and giving representatives of assorted insurance companies severe dyspepsia. In short, a weather event even our moronic PM couldn't deny.

      Only a few days ago I heard about a shortage of sardines for the US restaurant trade, and, a number of seal pups being washed ashore on the West Coast of the US. From memory, the last time I heard about sardine depletion in the eastern Pacific, it heralded a pretty severe El Niño here in Australia. The Southern Oscillation Index appears to be trending to the negative as well so I won't be the least bit surprised if Australia gets hammered by another severe drought. Farmers in Queensland and northern New South Wales will tell you it has already started.

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    12. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, "it's possible that reason, evidence and common sense will be tossed out of the window in the name of ideology and propping up the fossil fuel industry" - I think you can bank on that with this government and any other that owes its allegiance to the dollars of Big Business, sadly.

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    13. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, " I think that we will only see positive action on climate change after some sort of cyclone or tornado goes through the North Shore of Sydney". I agree with the principle you describe. We need either a disaster so bad it wakes up the voting public and makes them demand action, or a condition so profound it impacts corporate profits and makes them demand action. The news is not all bad, though: the impact on corporate profits could be a positive one, in which big business sees a profit to be made from renewable energy projects and demands government hand-outs to enable them to be implemented.
      Short of such fundamental impacts on our collective psyche, we can only expect business as usual and a biased mass media to keep the voters pacified, until it is too late to save the ship.

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    14. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      "some sort of cyclone or tornado goes through the North Shore of Sydney, flattening mansions"

      Nothing like that is likely to happen anytime soon. I can't see much hope of countries like the USA taking the issue seriously at least until something iconic like the disappearance of Arctic sea ice occurs which will probably happen within 15 years. Even then the forces of denialism will simply move to the stage of denial that they can get away with. I'm not holding my breath for action.

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    15. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris, "until something iconic like the disappearance of Arctic sea ice occurs". I doubt Mr. Average in the USA knows where the Arctic is, let alone have any idea what the loss of the ice cap would mean. To get the attention of USA citizens, the disaster/loss would have to be much closer to home. Imagine the outcry if no snow fell on the ski fields, or California ran out of water (which is not beyond the bounds of possibility). Hurricane Sandy gained some attention: another one might just galvanise action.
      Like you, I'm not holding my breath, because any such disaster may well happen too late for a meaningful reaction to be possible.

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    16. Blair Donaldson
      Blair Donaldson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher & Skeptic

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "Even then the forces of denialism will simply move to the stage of denial that they can get away with. I'm not holding my breath for action."

      Collectively, the mainstream media, the NLP and the usual suspects we see posting nonsense here are like the committed smoker dying from emphysema justifying one more puff because, well, one more won't hurt…

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  13. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    Sarah, "the worst of the impacts are yet to come". Too true - we have not even scratched the surface of climate impacts to come. Nature is angry and Nature bats last.

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    1. Sarah Perkins

      Research Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      indeed - I also don't think many people realise the true knock-on effects of anomalous heat at this time of year. BoM has also just released the seasonal outlook for may - dry and warm - so we can likely expect more of these events. And coupled with el nino - many parts of Australia are likely to see quite extreme temperatures and impacts well throughout summer.

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    2. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Sarah Perkins

      Sarah, "many parts of Australia are likely to see quite extreme temperatures and impacts well throughout summer" - regrettably, I think it will take the adverse effects of a serious El Niño to trigger public awareness of the fact there is a problem. At present, many people do not know that Global Warming exists, or, if they do, they don't understand what it really means. Australia is in for a pretty unpleasant ride as GW unfolds and the sooner our population wakes up and applies political pressure to those steering the ship, the better.

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