Hot Sunday

This morning in The Gong it is a comfortable 18C, and yesterday was not too bad. But statewide and indeed in just about all Eastern Australia we had this.

Meteorologists were predicting NSW would set a state-wide record for February warmth during the current heatwave but few would have tipped the mark would be broken two days in a row.

The blast of summer heat has placed south-eastern Australia on the map as the hottest place on the planet.

Residents of Richmond saw the mercury climb to 47 degrees on Saturday, placing the town on the north-west fringe of Sydney within less than a degree of the title of global hot spot – Ivanhoe Airport recorded a maximum of 47.6 degrees.

Before Friday, NSW had never had a February day above 42 degrees, based on averaged maximums in the state, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

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And over 80 bushfires mainly in the northern half of the state.

Most of the small community of Uarbry has been wiped out by a bushfire burning near Dunedoo, residents say, as the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) continues to battle blazes across the state.

Residents told the ABC nine of the dozen or so homes in the community were destroyed when the Sir Ivan fire bore down on them yesterday.

Paul Devonian was supplying bulk water to fire crews on the ground and said the conditions were the worst he had seen in 25 years of fighting fires.

“You couldn’t walk forward, it’d near blow you backwards, the wind,” he said…

The mercury in Walgett, near the Queensland boarder, reached 47.9 degrees Celsius yesterday while Taree (45.7C), Port Macquarie (46.5C) and Kempsie (46.4) also set new benchmarks.

Firefighters were not helped by firebugs, authorities said.

A man, 40, was charged after allegedly lighting a bushfire at Mangrove Creek, on the Central Coast today. He was refused bail…

And in Queensland: Queensland heatwave brings record temperatures and odd sea creatures. But in Western Australia: Perth weather: Record rainfall as over 100mm falls in 24 hours.

On Saturday Jim Belshaw noted:

While I generally accept the arguments about climate change, including the role human related emissions are playing in the process, my experience with previous heatwaves and the response to them makes me very cautious about attributing particular climatic events to climate change. It has lead to some very silly policy responses, especially in NSW. What we can certainly say is that this type of heat forces behavioral responses including cancellation of sporting events, a rush to buy fans and air-conditioners and to get some place cool. In turn, this has placed some pressure on the electricity supply system.

I live in a house without air-conditioning or, indeed, any fans. I’m also working from home at the moment, so the heat is especially trying. For that reason, my only practical response lies in managing the house to create breezeways and minimise sun impacts.

Climate change was not the main thrust of Jim’s post, but I do commend to you this from the Scientific AmericanYes, Some Extreme Weather Can Be Blamed on Climate Change.

..how do scientists know that global warming influenced a specific event? Until recently, they couldn’t answer this question, but the field of “attribution science” has made immense progress in the last five years. Researchers can now tell people how climate change impacts them, and not 50 or 100 years from now—today.

Scientific American spoke with Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, about how attribution science works and why it’s a critical part of helping communities prepare for and adapt to climate change…

ARE SCIENTISTS MORE CONFIDENT OF CLIMATE CHANGE’S CONTRIBUTION TO CERTAIN TYPES OF EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS VERSUS OTHERS?

There are events where we expect to see an increase, like heat waves and extreme rainfall. In particular, the signal is already quite large with heat waves. Other events are much more complicated. With droughts, for example, the feedback with the land surface plays a huge role, and the atmospheric circulation plays a much more important role. There are also events like hurricanes, where you need very high-resolution models to be able to say something about it—that’s a situation where the technology is just not there yet.

Just saw this on New Scientist:

Homo sapiens now rivals the great forces of nature. Humanity is a prime driver of change of the Earth system. Industrialised societies alter the planet on a scale equivalent to an asteroid impact. This is how the Anthropocene – the proposed new geological period in which human activity profoundly shapes the environment – is often described in soundbites.

But is it possible to formalise such statements mathematically? I think so, and believe doing this creates an unequivocal statement of the risks industrialised societies are taking at a time when action is vital.

Following the maxim of keeping everything as simple as possible, but not simpler, Will Steffen from the Australian National University and I drew up an Anthropocene equation by homing in on the rate of change of Earth’s life support system: the atmosphere, oceans, forests and wetlands, waterways and ice sheets and fabulous diversity of life…

 

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