When the heat is on, we need city-wide plans to keep cool January 30, 2017

https://theconversation.com/when-the-heat-is-on-we-need-city-wide-plans-to-keep-cool-70738

“Cities are facing more heatwaves, but not all strategies to keep us cool are equal.”

It is interesting what The Comversation published in January 2017 about the need for city-wide plans to keep cool:

“The recent spate of heatwaves through eastern Australia has reminded us we’re in an Australian summer. On top of another record hot yearglobally, and as heatwaves become more frequent and intense, our cities are making us even hotter.

This is the urban heat island, where city temperatures can be significantly warmer than the surrounding rural regions.

The question, then, is what we can do to keep our cities cooler. . . .”

 

 

Uta’s Diary, Reflections in the Midst of an Australian Summer

Today is Friday, the 19th of January 2018.

Tomorrow we’re going to meet the in-laws for lunch. We’re very much looking forward to this. Today is going to be very hot. I think tomorrow it may be getting even hotter, However we had some very cool early morning hours. The temperature was as low as 18C, quite cool really for by around lunchtime we may have about 40C or more! We bought recently a portable air conditioner. So far we did not have to use it yet. But should during the next few days the temperature in our house rise well above 30C then to have this portable air conditioner might prove to become very beneficial!

We always buy fresh farm eggs. There is an IGA shop close to where we live. This morning when it was still cool enough, Peter and I went for a walk to that IGA shop and bought a dozen of these locally produced farm eggs. During our walk my thoughts turned to a few things my father liked to point out. I think Papa often looked at politics in a very philosophical way. As in a lot of things in life he very much disliked any exaggerations. So also in politics. I could not say whether he was more left or right. It seemed to me he was exactly in the middle! He often would explain how important the middle in politics could turn out to be. He called it “Das Zuenglein an der Waage!”

In the Conversation an Article about Climate Change

This is an article in The Conversation:

https://theconversation.com/climate-change-doubled-the-likelihood-of-the-new-south-wales-heatwave-72871

Climate change doubled the likelihood of the New South Wales heatwave

February 16, 2017 6.10am AEDT Updated February 17, 2017 1.29pm AE

The heatwave that engulfed southeastern Australia at the end of last week has seen heat records continue to tumble like Jenga blocks.

On Saturday February 11, as New South Wales suffered through the heatwave’s peak, temperatures soared to 47℃ in Richmond, 50km northwest of Sydney, while 87 fires raged across the state amid catastrophic fire conditions.

On that day, most of NSW experienced temperatures at least 12℃ above normal for this time of year. In White Cliffs, the overnight minimum was 34.2℃, a new record for the state’s highest observed minimum temperature.

On Friday, the average maximum temperature right across NSW hit 42.4℃, beating the previous February record of 42.0℃. The new record stood for all of 24 hours before it was smashed again on Saturday, as the whole state averaged 44.0℃ at its peak. At this time, NSW was the hottest place on Earth.

A degree or two here or there might not sound like much, but to put it in cricketing parlance, those temperature records are the equivalent of a modern test batsman retiring with an average of over 100 – the feat of outdoing Don Bradman’s fabled 99.94 would undoubtedly be front-page news.

And still the records continue to fall. Mungindi, on the border with Queensland, broke the NSW record of 50 days in a row above 35℃, set just four years ago at Bourke Airport, with the new record now at 52 days.

Meanwhile, two days after that sweltering Saturday we woke to find the fires ignited during the heatwave still cutting a swathe of destruction, with the small town of Uarbry, east of Dunedoo, all but burned to the ground.

Maximum temperature anomalies across NSW on February 11, the peak of the heatwave. Bureau of Meteorology, Author provided

This is all the more noteworthy when we consider that the El Niño of 2015-16 is long gone and the conditions that ordinarily influence our weather are firmly in neutral. This means we should expect average, not sweltering, temperatures.

Since Christmas, much of eastern Australia has been in a flux of extreme temperatures. This increased frequency of heatwaves shows a strong trend in observations, which is set to continue as the human influence on the climate deepens.

It is all part of a rapid warming trend that over the past decade has seen new heat records in Australia outnumber new cold records by 12 to 1.

Let’s be clear, this is not natural. Climate scientists have long been saying that we would feel the impacts of human-caused climate change in heat records first, before noticing the upward swing in average temperatures (although that is happening too). This heatwave is simply the latest example.

What’s more, in just a few decades’ time, summer conditions like these will be felt across the whole country regularly.

Attributing the heat

The useful thing scientifically about heatwaves is that we can estimate the role that climate change plays in these individual events. This is a relatively new field known as “event attribution”, which has grown and improved significantly over the past decade.

Using the Weather@Home climate model, we looked at the role of human-induced climate change in this latest heatwave, as we have for other events before.

We compared the likelihood of such a heatwave in model simulations that factor in human greenhouse gas emissions, compared with simulations in which there is no such human influence. Since 2017 has only just begun, we used model runs representing 2014, which was similarly an El Niño-neutral year, while also experiencing similar levels of human influence on the climate.

Based on this analysis, we found that heatwaves at least as hot as this one are now twice as likely to occur. In the current climate, a heatwave of this severity and extent occurs, on average, once every 120 years, so is still quite rare. However, without human-induced climate change, this heatwave would only occur once every 240 years.

In other words, the waiting time for the recent east Australian heatwave has halved. As climate change worsens in the coming decades, the waiting time will reduce even further.

Our results show very clearly the influence of climate change on this heatwave event. They tell us that what we saw last weekend is a taste of what our future will bring, unless humans can rapidly and deeply cut our greenhouse emissions.

Our increasingly fragile electricity networks will struggle to cope, as the threat of rolling blackouts across NSW showed. It is worth noting that the large number of rooftop solar panels in NSW may have helped to avert such a crisis this time around.

Our hospital emergency departments also feel the added stress of heat waves. When an estimated 374 people died from the heatwave that preceded the Black Saturday bushfires the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine resorted to storing bodies in hospitals, universities and funeral parlours. The Victorian heatwave of January 2014 saw 167 more deaths than expected, along with significant increases in emergency department presentations and ambulance callouts.

Infrastructure breaks down during heatwaves, as we saw in 2009 when railway lines buckled under the extreme conditions, stranding thousands of commuters. It can also strain Australia’s beloved sporting events, as the 2014 Australian Open showed.

These impacts have led state governments and other bodies to investigate heatwave management strategies, while our colleagues at the Bureau of Meteorology have developed a heatwave forecast service for Australia.

These are likely to be just the beginning of strategies needed to combat heatwaves, with conditions currently regarded as extreme set to be the “new normal” by the 2030s. With the ramifications of extreme weather clear to everyone who experienced this heatwave, there is no better time to talk about how we can ready ourselves.

We urgently need to discuss the health and economic impacts of heatwaves, and how we are going to cope with more of them in the future.


We would like to acknowledge Robert Smalley, Andrew Watkins and Karl Braganza of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for providing observations included in this article. This article was amended on February 16, 2017, to include updated weather observations.

Uta’s February 2017 Diary

This is early morning Monday, the 13th of February. I just had a look at what the Sydney Morning Herald published last night about the weather and I put this in another post this morning:

https://auntyuta.com/2017/02/13/hottest-place-on-the-planet/

Just now all this feels quite unbelievable to me.  I do not say that it is not true, it’s just that where I am it feels right now more like a cool winter’s morning: The outside temperature is a cool 15 C.  What a change from two days ago!

“The coast and parts of the ranges were the only areas in NSW to escape high-30s or 40s on Saturday.” This is what it says in Peter Hannam’s article in the SMH.

Further it says:”NSW and other parts of south-eastern Australia were the hottest in the world on Saturday, according to the Climate Reanalyzer website.”

Here is what was said about fire conditions a couple of days ago:

“Soaring temperatures across much of the state have led to warnings of catastrophic fire conditions. In Walgett, the temperature has hit 46 degrees.

As NSW faces the “worst possible fire conditions” in its history with ‘extreme’ and catastrophic’ warnings in place across large slabs of the state, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the situation was as “bad as it gets” and warned it was set to get worse on Sunday when winds are expected to sweep through scorched parts of mid to northern NSW.

“To put it simply [the conditions] are off the old scale,” he said. “It is without precedent in NSW”.

As of 11am, the RFS reported 76 bush and grass fires across NSW with 26 not yet contained. Deputy Commission Rob Rogers told ABC news:  “It’s going to be a really tough day.”

I am sure a lot of fires in rural NSW are still burning now. It is a huge task for fire crews to keep them away from homes as much as possible.

Here is a comment I made yesterday:  “We were quite lucky today. we had an overcast sky, all day and a bit of wind and the temperature went no higher than 28 Celsius which I find very pleasant. The rest of NSW still has sweltering conditions and severe fire alert. Today, I was able to do a lot of reading in the Novel “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen.”

 

Heatwave Records in Australia

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/10/australia-swelters-in-heatwave-and-argues-about-energy-future

I just found the following in The Guardian:

“Sydney airport recorded its hottest February day ever at 42.9C, breaking a 37-year record. Wood said the month was on track to be the hottest on record in both Sydney and Brisbane, following on from their hottest January on record.”

 

Here is an article by the ABC about Australia’s heatwave:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-11/states-ready-for-extreme-heatwave/8261520

We live in Dapto, 100 km south of Sydney. Today, Saturday, we expect 41c.  Right now it is still early morning and the outside temperature is only about 23C. We plan on driving to Warrawong later on, spending some time in the shopping centre and in the afternoon we want to visit the GALA Cinema to see a French movie: Rosalie Blum.

Yesterday afternoon my lady friends came over to my place. It was our Friday games afternoon. Erika is away in Geelong, Victoria, visiting some friends. But Barbara, Irene and Marion did come despite the heat and I not having any air-conditioning. I had our ceiling fans in the living room going the whole time. Blinds and curtains were in front of all the windows.  We started playing at 2 pm. I think our inside temperature was then only about 28C. But three hours later, when the ladies left, the inside temperature had climbed to 32C.

 

 

 

Heatwaves in Australia

 

Extreme heatwave conditions can be difficult to cope with. It is all explained here.

This is how the explanation starts:

“For the first time, the Bureau of Meteorology has provided a national definition of a heatwave.

Many Australians have kicked off the new year in sweltering heatwave conditions, with the mercury soaring to record-breaking temperatures in several states.

The bureau says heatwaves have taken more Australian lives than any other natural hazard in the past 200 years, but until now it had not given a national definition of just what constitutes a heatwave.li
A heatwave is now defined by three or more days of unusually high maximum and minimum temperatures in any area.”

To read more, please find the link under ‘here’ at the top of this page.