The most recent Climate Council Angry Summer report has released details of over 150 broken records during the latest summer period across Australia. The findings of this report highlight a growing trend in Australia of greater weather extremes and hotter summers, with this past summer being only the beginning of future climate problems.
According to the report, it is apparent that “Hot days, hot nights and extended periods of hot weather – heatwaves – are one of the most direct consequences of climate change” (Climate Council 2014).
Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council believes that the extreme weather patterns highlighted from this summer are a clear result of climate change, which needs to be addressed as an issue by government.
“We’re having difficulty dealing with it now; our children and grandchildren will be having a great deal more difficulty dealing with it in decades to come,” she said.
“It’s consistent with the predictions of what happens as the globe warms up.
“Climate change is making the whole weather system different to what it used to be and along with that is an increase in extreme events.”
In Australia, there were records being broken left, right and centre, mainly in the categories of extreme temperatures and drought.
According to the Angry Summer report, South Australia was one of the worst hit areas, with 11 days above 42 degrees Celsius (C) and Adelaide experiencing its hottest ever February day of 44.7C.
Melbourne also broke several records, recording its hottest ever 24-hour period with an average of 35.5C, while being forced to endure 2 nights in a row over 27C and 4 days in a row of over 41C for Victoria as a whole.
It was another summer of devastating bushfires, with Victoria experiencing the worst bushfire season since Black Saturday in 2009. Approximately 150 of these fires burnt 280,000 hectares of Victorian land in February this year and property was destroyed on Melbourne’s fringe. In January the Grampians bushfire saw one person killed, and burnt over 52,000 hectares of land, destroying property along the way.
Some other records include 20 days above 35CinCanberra, making it Canberra’s third hottest summer on record. Sydney on the other hand experienced its driest summer in 27 years, while 38 spots in New South Wales and 45 in Queensland had their driest summers on record.
According to Angry Summer 2013/2014 by the Climate Council of Australia there are five key findings from the report:
1. Heatwaves and hot days, drought and rainfall extremes (high and low), and bushfires dominated the 2013/2014 summer.
2. Climate change is already increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events in Australia.
3. Many of our largest population centres stand out as being at increased risk from extreme weather events, including heatwaves, drought and bushfires.
4. The impacts of extreme weather events on people, property, communities and the environment are serious and costly.
5. Limiting the increase in extreme weather activity requires urgent and deep reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases. The decisions we make this decade will largely determine the severity of climate change and its influence on extreme events for our grandchildren. This is the critical decade for action on climate change.
The report also stated that “It is crucial that we are aware of the influence of climate change on extreme weather so that communities, emergency services, health services and other authorities are prepared for the likelihood of increasingly severe and frequent extreme weather.”
The Climate Council (previously known as the government funded Climate Commission) is comprised of a group of economists and climate scientists, dedicated to studying the effects of climate change.
image source: Climate council