Australian Heatwave Harbinger of Hot Summer, Hotter Century

Temperatures in northeastern Australia are 5 ºC higher than the average monthly highs.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Oct. 27, 2022 15:06 UTC

A three-day heat­wave has hit north­ern Australia, an unusual phe­nom­e­non at this time of year, accord­ing to the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology.

The author­i­ties said the heat­wave affected most of the north­east­ern state’s coast­line and far­ther inland, with tem­per­a­tures expected to hit the mid-thir­ties and reach up to 40 ºC.

Meteorologist Kimba Wong told local media that tem­per­a­tures were expected to be a full 5 ºC warmer than the aver­age max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture in October, the first full month of spring in Australia.

See Also:Decades of Heatwaves Have Gone Unreported, Study Finds

The extremely early onset of the cur­rent heat­wave may indi­cate a larger trend tak­ing palace in Australia. Studies con­ducted by Australian and European mete­o­rol­o­gists found that future heat­wave sever­ity is asso­ci­ated with increas­ing CO2 emis­sions, par­tic­u­larly along the east coast and south­ern Australia.”

In a recent report, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization warned that west­ern Sidney, in south­east Australia, may expe­ri­ence twice as many days with tem­per­a­tures exceed­ing 35 ºC by 2030 as it does now.

The report esti­mated this fig­ure could triple by 2050 and increase by five-fold by the end of the cen­tury. Researchers added that a sim­i­lar trend would likely occur with days exceed­ing 40 ºC.

As some Australians are already turn­ing on the air con­di­tion­ing to cope with ris­ing tem­per­a­tures and high humid­ity, offi­cials are wor­ried that the early arrival of hot weather in spring serves as a har­bin­ger for the approach­ing sum­mer.

Australia’s first heat­wave of the sea­son coin­cides with the release of a new United Nations and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) report.

The report found that cli­mate change is mak­ing heat­waves more dan­ger­ous for human health, and aggres­sive steps” are required to avoid recur­rent heat-related health crises.

The report’s authors also noted that heat­waves are already tak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant toll on agri­cul­ture and forestry, trig­ger­ing wild­fires and destroy­ing crops.

They warned that the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, includ­ing agri­cul­tural labor­ers, and coun­tries were likely to be most affected by sus­tained hot weather as it becomes more com­mon.

However, the authors added, almost every­where that reli­able data is avail­able, heat­waves are the dead­liest weather-related haz­ard.”

The researchers fur­ther pre­dicted that the grow­ing impact of heat­waves would not stop as global green­house gas emis­sions con­tinue to rise.

The north­ern parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southwest Asia are expected to expe­ri­ence some of the most severe heat­waves in the com­ing decades, exac­er­bat­ing inequal­ity, strain­ing lim­ited gov­ern­ment resources and result­ing in large-scale suf­fer­ing and loss of life.”

The report’s release comes just weeks before the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), which is tak­ing place in Egypt.

The cli­mate cri­sis is inten­si­fy­ing human­i­tar­ian emer­gen­cies all around the world,” said Jagan Chapagain, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the IFRC. To avert its most dev­as­tat­ing impacts, we must invest equally on adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion, par­tic­u­larly in the coun­tries most at risk.”

At COP27, we will urge world lead­ers to ensure that this invest­ment reaches local com­mu­ni­ties that are on the front­line of the cli­mate cri­sis,” he added. If com­mu­ni­ties are pre­pared to antic­i­pate cli­mate risks and equipped to take action, we will pre­vent extreme weather events from becom­ing human­i­tar­ian dis­as­ters.”


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