How Australia’s extreme heat might be here to stay

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Media captionWarmer seas are turning Great Barrier Reef turtles female, a study has found

A section of highway connecting Sydney along with also Melbourne commenced to melt. Bats fell dead through the trees, struck down by the heat.

On the northern Great Barrier Reef, 99% of baby green sea turtles, a species whose sex will be determined by temperature, were found to be female.

In outer suburban Sydney, the heat hit 47.3C (117F) before a cool change knocked This specific down – to the relative cool of just 43.6C in a neighbouring suburb the following day.

Scenes through a sci-fi novel depicting a scorched future? No, just the first days of 2018 in Australia, where summer will be in fierce form.

With parts of the US suffering through a particularly grim winter, extremes in both hemispheres have triggered discussions about the links between current events along with also the build-up of carbon dioxide inside atmosphere.

Climate change ‘no brainer’

The climate system will be incredibly complex along with also no weather event can be directly attributed to rising emissions, nevertheless everything in which will be experienced today happens in a world in which will be about one degree warmer than the long-term mean.

Prof Andy Pitman, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of completely new South Wales, says given the average temperature has risen This specific will be a “no brainer” in which the likelihood of the sort of heat in which hit Sydney last week has also increased.

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“This specific was a meteorological anomaly, nevertheless the probability works a bit like if you stand at sea level along with also throw a ball inside air, along with also then gradually make your way up a mountain along with also throw the ball inside air again,” he says.

“The chances of the ball going higher increases dramatically. in which’s what we’re doing with temperature.”

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Sydney has experienced a sweltering start to 2018

While This specific will be record-breaking in which tends to make news, scientists say This specific will be the unbroken run of hot days inside high 30s along with also 40s in which causes the significant problems for human health, along with also additional life.

Health officials in Victoria highlighted the threat of heatwaves when they found about 374 more people died during an extreme three-day period in January 2009 than would likely have been expected had This specific been cooler.

There has, however, been relatively little investment in research into the health impact of escalating maximum temperatures.

A paper published inside journal Nature Climate Change last year said while a government report called for greater focus on the area 25 years ago, less than 0.1% of health funding since has been dedicated to the impact of climate change.

Prof Pitman says Australia will be yet to properly consider the health risks of a warming planet.

“This specific’s not being able to cool down at night, along with also inside days in which follow, in which causes problems,” he says.

“I was camping inside Blue Mountains [west of Sydney] on Saturday night. This specific was about 30 degrees at midnight, along with also I could feel my heart racing. right now, in which extra stress on my cardiovascular system didn’t kill me, nevertheless This specific might have if I was 20 years older.”

Last year was Australia’s third-warmest year since records began, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Globally, This specific was the second or third warmest, along with also comfortably the hottest year in which there was not an El Niño weather system helping push up temperatures further.

Put another way: This specific will be right now hotter without an El Niño than This specific was with an El Niño just a few years ago.

Far-reaching impact

In eastern Australia – where the bulk of the population lives – temperatures were particularly inflated during summer months, when an increase will be most likely to lead to uncomfortable or dangerous heat.

Several locations had runs of record hot days along with also nights. More than 40% of the most populous state, completely new South Wales, recorded at least 50 days hotter than 35C. The town of Moree had 54 consecutive days of extreme heat.

“Across Australia, the last 5 years were all inside top seven years on record. in which’s quite a striking signal,” the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Dr Blair Trewin says.

The extra energy warming up the climate system will be also being felt in several ways. The bushfires season starts earlier than This specific used to, along with also Australia has already experienced wild blazes This specific season.

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Media captionA bushfire tears through South Australia last week

Along with the increased background heat, This specific will be in part due to a clear drying pattern in some areas.

Rainfall will be down for both the south-east along with also south-west of the country inside cooler months months between April along with also October.

“in which also has quite significant impacts for agriculture because historically in which’s when they get most of their inflows,” Dr Trewin says.

The impact of warming on the earth Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the only living structure visible through space, has been well documented. Estimates suggest about half its shallow-water coral was killed during bleaching events over the past two years linked to increased water temperatures.

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Further south, the sea along Tasmania’s east coast has warmed dramatically, pushing tropical species to unlikely high latitudes along with also coinciding with the disappearance of giant kelp forests.

Some weather patterns have not changed. There will be no evidence of variations in cyclone behaviour or the frequency or intensity of large hail along with also lightning, for instance.

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Media captionUnderwater video shows where bleaching has damaged the Great Barrier Reef

All This specific comes against a backdrop of political fighting over how to tackle climate change.

This specific will be less than a year since senior government members brandished a piece of coal in parliament to taunt the Labor opposition, whom ministers accused of wanting to see an end to the fossil fuel industry.

The Malcolm Turnbull-led government remains committed to a 2030 target pledged at the Paris climate talks: a 26-to-28% cut below 2005 emissions.

This specific says This specific can cut emissions while shielding the public along with also business through unnecessary cost rises. This specific also points out in which Australia will be directly responsible for little more than 1% of global emissions (though This specific will be responsible for about 30% of the global coal trade).

nevertheless national greenhouse accounts released inside week before Christmas showed Australia’s industrial emissions have been on an upward curve since 2014, when the government repealed carbon pricing laws, which required big business to pay for its pollution.

Emissions had fallen inside two years the laws were in place. The latest projections inside accounts suggest Australia will overshoot its 2030 target unless completely new policies are introduced to arrest the growth.

“There definitely isn’t an argument in which climate change isn’t true in parliament anymore,” Prof Pitman says. “You’d find a couple of members of parliament in which say in which, nevertheless you’d also find a couple who didn’t believe in evolution along with also didn’t believe in inoculating children against disease.

“The issue right now will be in which the scale of concern – along with also the action under way or committed to both in Australia along with also internationally – doesn’t match the scale of the problem.”

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