Australia is the first Continent to get the Full Blast of Global Warming...
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
A 2007 report by the Bushfire CRC and the CSIRO concluded that global warming is expected to make southeastern Australia hotter and drier, raising the Forest Fire Danger Index. The researchers found the previous top fire danger category of 'extreme' inadequate for their purposes and added the new categories of 'very extreme' and 'catastrophic'.
They concluded that under a high global warming scenario - the path we are now on - by 2020 the number of 'very extreme' days is expected to double in many areas. Since 1973 only 12 of the 26 sites studied had recorded 'catastrophic' fire danger days - presumably the sorts of conditions that prevailed in Victoria over the last week. By 2020 climate change is expected to see 20 of the 26 sites experience these conditions, of which 10 are likely to have return periods of 16 years or less.
Yesterday the Bureau of Meteorology released a special report titled The exceptional January-February 2009 heatwave in south-eastern Australia.
It is a catalogue of temperature records not just broken, but smashed. It is replete with phrases such as "exceptional heatwave", "the most exceptional heat, compared with historic experience", "many records broken by large margins", "seven of the eight highest temperatures on record", "extremely high night and day temperatures", "the highest ever recorded in the world so far south", and "far exceeding its previous all-time record".
The fire danger implied by these temperature records was exacerbated by very dry conditions, with the most acute long-term rainfall deficits in the areas immediately north-east and east of Melbourne.
Professor Barry Brook, Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide and one the country's leading climate scientists, quotes a colleague from the Bureau of Meteorology: "... climate change is now becoming such a strong contributor to these hitherto unimaginable events that the language starts to change from one of 'climate change increased the chances of an event' to 'without climate change this event could not have occurred'".
Like climate scientists around the world, meteorologists in Australia can barely conceal their panic at the shift in climate.
It is always possible that extreme events such as the heatwave and the fires that followed could have occurred naturally. But when extreme event is piled on extreme event the probability that global warming is to blame increases markedly.
This is the argument made by Barry Brook that leads him to conclude that a link between the heatwave and climate change is very likely. The recent heatwave combined with Adelaide's "record-smashing" March 2008 heatwave -which "surpassed the previous longest stretch of above 35 degrees celcius degree temperatures recorded in any Australian capital city" - sharply reduces the odds that they are natural events.
He calculates that the chances of two "freakishly rare" extreme events like this occurring within the same 12-month period are about one in 1,200,000.
The Entire Article
You will note that this article was written February 2009.
NOW HERE'S THE BAD NEWS: Many of those "freakishly rare" extreme temperature records that they were so concerned about then were smashed again in March 2009, and equalled again this year.
In the meantime, just across the Indian Ocean, Capetown hit 54.5C a few days ago! For you Fahrenheit types, that's 130 Degrees! (It has since dropped down to a frosty 34C/93F - brrrr.)
The Very Mountains were burning!
Welcome to By 2100!
This Blog is designed to be a Diary of Events illustrating Global Climate Change, and where it will lead.
Commentary is encouraged, but this Blog is not intended for discussion on the Validity of Climate Change.