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Australia s Climate Bureau: get used to record breaking heat


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).

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

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