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Australia’s Climate Bureau: get used to record breaking heat

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “F”, for: it is getting effing hot.

First, to Australia where temperature records are spontaneously combusting. Australia is in the midst of a heatwave, and the forecast for next Monday is 122F (!), which was literally off the charts until Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology expanded the temperature scale on its weather maps.

Deep purple = HOT

The Bureau’s Dr. David Jones doesn’t bury the lede about what’s behind these record temperatures:

‘‘The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is now unprecedented in our records,’’  the Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction, David Jones, said.

“Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.”

As the warming trend increases over coming years, record-breaking heat will become more and more common, Dr Jones said.

“We know that global climate doesn’t respond monotonically – it does go up and down with natural variation. That’s why some years are hotter than others because of a range of factors. But we’re getting many more hot records than we’re getting cold records. That’s not an issue that is explained away by natural variation.”

Here in the States, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 2012 is now the hottest year on record (for the U.S.). Ever:

2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year.

While a pair temperature records is definitely noteworthy, the trend is more important, and worrisome. For much of the United States and Australia (and many other places), temperatures are expected to rise and rainfall is expected to decrease. If the climate models and projections are even somewhat correct, there will be more years like 2012.

Anyways, it’s getting harder to say with a straight face that man-made climate change has nothing to do with rising atmospheric temperatures (Lamar Smith, I’m looking at you).

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Carlyle 5:04 am 01/9/2013


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  2. 2. Carlyle 5:52 am 01/9/2013

    One way of breaking old records is to delete them.
    There are also numerous extreme high temperatures which have been recorded prior to about 1910 using non-standard instrumentation, most notably a reading of 53.1 at Cloncurry in January 1889.
    By the way, let us know where & when the 122F is supposed to happen. If you meant Monday 8th Jan it did not happen. Heat wave has passed now so when & where?

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  3. 3. Carlyle 7:42 am 01/9/2013

    Just as I thought. Only using data back to 1913, ignoring previous records as well asthat you exagerated the forcast for next Monday. What it actually said: Monday, a Tasmania-sized deep purple opens up over South Australia – implying 50 degrees or above.

    Aaron Coutts-Smith, the bureau’s NSW head of climate monitoring, though, cautioned that the 50-degree reading is the result of just one of the bureau’s models. “The indications are, from the South Australian office, that we are not looking at getting any where near that (50 degree level).”
    You have no idea how disgusting this type of reporting is to people who long for truthfull honest coverage.

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  4. 4. dek0609 10:07 am 01/9/2013

    You are right Carlyle, this weather is delightful. I wish it was 46 everyday.

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  5. 5. plswinford 3:19 pm 01/9/2013

    Global warming will be a centuries-long effect.

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  6. 6. Crasher 3:29 pm 01/9/2013

    As someone who is living through this unprecedented heatwave I can tell you Carlyle that it is very real. These are the hottest temps every experienced over Australia as a whole since records have been recorded. Ask the CSIRO. 2012 was also the hottest in the US ask NOAA. The state of NSW currently has over 140 bushfires burning with some 40 out of control. Victoria, tasmania and to some extent QLD and SA are much the same.
    Get over the denial of climate change. Its here, its real and its reality is that our lives are being change significantly. Too late to fix the issue we now have to learn to live with it because we have denied its reality for too long. Now we start to pay the price.

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  7. 7. Carlyle 4:39 pm 01/9/2013

    Wrong. I live in Australia too. It is easy to make new records when you delete all the old records. They disregard temperature readings prior to 1910. Read some early Australian history. Of course it has been hot. Deleting old records & effectively you are saying the hottest in 100 years. Another thing, massive bush fires have affected temperature readings where in earlier times undergrowth was burnt off during the cooler months. To that extnt, we are suffering AGW.

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  8. 8. Crasher 5:31 pm 01/9/2013

    No records have been deleted…where did you get that dribble from? Individual days have been hotter in some places. The record that has been broken was for the Australian continent as a whole. That is why it is linked to Global warming. Check these FACTS with the CSIRO. Back burning operations are done every year as a normal course to reduce fuel loads. This year has been no exception. Consult the RFS to verify this.
    You are either ignoring facts from reputable scientific organisations, nit picking evidence or in the pay of Ms rhinehart or alan jones. BTW alan jones was forced to apologise to the Australia Public for LYING about global warming by the Broadcast regulator. Perhaps that would be a good precidence to set in these forums!

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  9. 9. Carlyle 10:31 pm 01/9/2013

    It is not that no back burning is done. It is the restrictive nature of what is permitted. It will all come out but everyone will be absolved again. Records are excluded. Deleted was the wrong word though they are deleted from calculations. All through my education in the 1940s & 50s we learned that Cloncurry held the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in Australia. Look it up yourself. It is now excluded & the record goes to Oodnadatta. Entire weather station records in some areas of The Northern Territory are also excluded. There was a big fuss about it a couple of years ago. I do not have time to look it up right now but I will. Also I pointed out that this article deleted the disclaimer from the original paper. Come back Tuesday & we will know by how much the alarmist prediction for next Monday was out. As for the record being for the whole country, what records are they comparing with? Find me the records from the Federation drought & the previous big droughts in the 1800s that were included. They are not. Effectively it is relying on records after 1913 but even then excluding many records or including measurements that were not taken in some of the station areas back then.

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  10. 10. Crasher 10:57 pm 01/9/2013

    I think you have missed the whole story. Once again, the record that was broken is for the country as a WHOLE not for any individual place. This is NOT alarmist this is REALITY. Check with CSIRO and BOM. These are the people with the training and the knowledge and access to all the records, historic and current, and measuring equipment. They are under no illusions as to the serious nature of the current global (note the word GLOBAL) temperature increases. The predictions for next Satuday-Tuesday is again for a country wide heatwave that has a strong possibility of breaking the record set this week. Not alarmist, just a BOM weather prediction from our University trained experts.
    Would you prefer we sack all of CSIRO and just let alan jones etc, tell us what the weather/state of the planet is.
    He and his kind are the obvious experts and have no vested interests……note the sarcasm.

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  11. 11. Carlyle 12:32 am 01/10/2013

    Excellent idea Jones would not have lied about having his life threatened as CSIRO people did but could not back it up. It was a lie to try & discredit people who ask uncomfortable questions.
    A s for the temp being for the whole country, how did they do that exactly when they claim records pre 1910 were unreliable as well as many after that date & so exclude them. Oh I know. Computer models.

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  12. 12. Carlyle 12:38 am 01/10/2013

    Garbage in garbage out. Would Jones do thisJ
    Now, how many HQ stations were used to build the Northern Territory’s climate record? 2. That’s right, TWO. Alice Springs Airport and Tennant Creek Airport. Darwin isn’t used because it is urban.
    These two climate records, and the thermometers that produce them, are the most powerful in the nation. Here’s a graph showing the area of each State per HQ climate site.

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  13. 13. Carlyle 1:38 am 01/10/2013

    The total land area of the Northern Territory is 1 349 129 km2, with a coastline length of 10 953 km
    The nearest weather station to the coast used by the weather bureau is at Tennant Creek, over 500 kilometres inland. The second at Alice Springs is over 900 Km from the coast. I do not think Jones would believe that was representative either but your magicians at the CSIRO claim average accuracy to a fraction of a degree over this vast area. Where is your BS metre?

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  14. 14. Postman1 10:44 am 01/10/2013

    Carlyle – sounds like the same thing as here in the US. Warmest year on record (but don’t include Alaska, which had an unusually cool summer and is now extremely cold)
    A couple of years back, when Alaska had a mild winter, it was all the news. This year the Texas drought was all over the MSM, but the massive amount of snows in the Rockies, Cascades, and extreme cold isn’t even mentioned. I guess that just doesn’t fit the agenda.

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  15. 15. Crasher 2:55 pm 01/10/2013

    So all the scientists are wrong. Lucky we have experts like you and alan jones to put us straight. Why do we have Universities then. Why do we bother training people at all. We could save a lot of money if we got rid of them to invest in coal.
    Really if you don’t like science don’t read it.

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  16. 16. Carlyle 5:07 pm 01/10/2013

    What did I tell you? You referred me to the CSIRO. Again, Alan Jones undoubtedly would have done a better job. Common sense over agenda. Idiots.
    Burn-off ban to protect habitats fires up farmers
    The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association said yesterday the inability of many farmers to obtain fire permits allowing winter and spring burn-offs on their properties must be considered a contributory factor in the ferocity of the fires..
    “It’s those Greens in government,” Mr Arnold said. “They care more about birds and wildlife than they do about people and farms.
    “But what’s the point of that now when the hills and trees they told me I couldn’t burn off, because there were protected eagles and swift parrots there, are now all burned and the fire it created was so hot we had dead swans dropping out of the sky?”

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  17. 17. Carlyle 5:29 pm 01/10/2013

    Hi Posman1. I am embarrassed that so many Australians swallow unquestioningly what they are fed by these government funded charlatans. We must hold them to account. It is a global epidemic. The vaccine is simple but has to be administered frequently. Truth.

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  18. 18. kenlynn 6:43 pm 01/10/2013

    Hi Carlyle, as a scientist I hate to see ignorant rubbish about science and scientists from people who have an entirely unreasonable belief in their own correctness along with total ignorance of science as a profession. “government funded charlatans” – I note that the official BOM comments on the current heat wave have carefully avoided any mention of climate change since it inevitably brings out the worst in climate denialists. The concept that science results are determined by who pays you is both insulting and completely untrue. Science research grants are given for projects which are going to develop new knowledge and let the answers fall where they may. You seem to confuse science with political thinking where you start with particular ideological biases of the sort you seem to hold. Science collects all the facts which is something you dont seem to be able to cope with nor do you understand the modelling which provides the accurate picture at the top of this blog.

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  19. 19. MassEffect 6:59 pm 01/10/2013

    Carlyle is a troll.
    Its safe to say that everything he says is a lie, he never provides evidence or proof of his/her/its claims. No links, nothing.
    As with other trolls ignore him/her/it and focus on meaningful discussion, this is a critical issue.

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  20. 20. Carlyle 7:09 pm 01/10/2013

    They may collect all the facts but then they discard those they do not like. I am talking about a large number of government funded climate scientists, not all scientists & their behaviour drags all science down. How can you defend this & claims it is representative over this entire vast area? I pointed out to the SIAM author that he was exaggerating further by excluding the disclaimer in the original report.
    Now, how many HQ stations were used to build the Northern Territory’s climate record? 2. That’s right, TWO. Alice Springs Airport and Tennant Creek Airport.
    The total land area of the Northern Territory is 1 349 129 km2, with a coastline length of 10 953 km
    Territory’s climate record? 2. That’s right, TWO. Alice Springs Airport and Tennant Creek Airport.

    Unfortunately it is many of thee scientists ho are confusing science with politics.

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  21. 21. Carlyle 7:21 pm 01/10/2013

    A perfect example of my more moronic opposition. Of all the posts on this article, I am the only one who has posted ANY links. Go back to your AGW prayer meeting, they will be missing you.

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  22. 22. MassEffect 7:33 pm 01/10/2013

    Carlyle, your one ‘scientific’ ref is to a non peer-reviewed WordPress site and the other link is to an article on the Australian’s site, and we all know the Australian’s view on climate change; complete denial.
    Get a grip Mr Troll, go physhing somewhere else.

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  23. 23. Carlyle 7:49 pm 01/10/2013

    I can not help it if you are too lazy to trace my links back to their source if you do not wish to accept them at face value.
    You on the other hand have contributed what exactly to the debate?

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  24. 24. MassEffect 8:12 pm 01/10/2013

    Some resources:

    BOM climate data resources, General start page for various resources:

    Plenty of refs to climate records here:

    From Wikipedia:
    The federal government and all state governments (New South Wales,[4] Victoria,[5] Queensland,[6] South Australia,[7] Western Australia,[8] Tasmania,[9] Northern Territories[10] and Australian Capital Territory[11]) have explicitly recognised that climate change is being caused by greenhouse gas emissions, in conformity with the scientific opinion on climate change.

    I can see a very big crisis coming.
    My first question is, are all nations involved in high energy use capable of sitting down and designing and managing a careful transition from fossil fuels to renewables in order to allay a global warming crisis, like the one we are seeing now in Australia?
    My answer right now is probably no, I think most countries would prefer to have another resource war instead so that arms manufacturers, fossil fuel companies, Wall Street etc could make a killing. Make a killing. Make a killing …

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  25. 25. Carlyle 8:57 pm 01/10/2013

    Well done. I’m proud of you. So will your teacher be, you might even get a star stamp.

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  26. 26. MassEffect 1:10 am 01/11/2013

    Carlyle, I’m 70 yrs old, I’ve watched climate change happen.
    I hope my children and grandchildren survive what’s coming, yours too if you have any.

    btw the Catalyst show, previous post, is really worth watching it summarises the whole ghastly scenario really thoroughly.

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  27. 27. Carlyle 7:08 am 01/11/2013

    I am also 70 years old. Raised on a farm, a lifelong bee keeper amongst other things which has also made me a lifelong weather watcher. I have lived & worked in outback Queensland, the Northern Territory Mt Tom Price & the Asbestos Mine at Wittenoom Gorge near Marble Bar in WA. Family have properties from Tasmania to north of a little place called Bull Finch north of Kalgoorlie. Neither I nor my friends believe there is anything unusual about the present. Some of the station properties I know like Jessievale north of Cloncurry have kept weather records for generations. No one is interested in the old records. I believe many of the old Kidman properties like Lake Nash also kept records. A late mate of mine managed Lake Nash. Certainly I feel the temperature more than I used to at this age but I vividly remember rivulets of bitumen running off the road between Cloncurry & Mary Kathleen Uranium mine in 1961 or 2. I am sure you have no need to fear for your descendants so far as climate is concerned. I recently drove an un-air-conditioned old car from Brisbane to Mt Isa, just before Christmas. No hotter than when I first did that 52 years ago. I have a daughter who lives in the Isa & I wanted to leave an old car there for when my wife & I fly up to visit.
    Yes. Five children & eleventh grandchild one week ago. Thank you & your best wishes are reciprocated.

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  28. 28. Postman1 11:00 am 01/11/2013

    Carlyle, congratulations on your 11th grandchild! We now have eight, but you are a few years(7) older than I.
    I too feel the heat more now, but also the cold. Back in the early 60′s we swam in the river on New year’s Day, but not since then, it is always too cold.
    I do fear for the safety of my grandkids, but not due to the climate. They are in much more danger from the rising crime rates and the efforts to disarm us all. Wouldn’t want us shooting those bad guys, You know?
    Have a Great Day, Mate!

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  29. 29. Carlyle 5:43 pm 01/11/2013

    28. Postman1
    11:00 am 01/11/2013

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  30. 30. Carlyle 1:07 am 01/12/2013

    The alarmist forecast in this article of 50C for next Monday in central Australia related to Leigh Creek.
    The forecast now is 36C. North East Pastoral area
    Partly cloudy. Winds southeasterly 30 to 35 km/h, decreasing to 20 to 25 km/h during the day. Overnight temperatures falling to 17 to 30 with daytime temperatures reaching 32 to 44.
    Absolutely nothing unusual. Do you think we deserve a retaction? I’m not holding my breath. We will see what the actual figures come in at.

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  31. 31. Carlyle 3:35 am 01/14/2013

    What did the temperature actually reach at Leigh Creek today? 89.6F A couple of small remote areas in SA reached 102.2F › Australia › South Australia › Observations
    Maximum temperatures were generally well below average apart from a few centres in the far north.
    So no where near a record & well below average. Any apologies?

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  32. 32. Postman1 8:12 pm 01/14/2013

    Carlyle – I think the cat’s got their tongues.

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