Guest essay by Robert Balic: You might have noticed the Hand Print of Climate Change in Australia here or come across this graphic of the number of stations recording 45°C or more in January of 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angry_Summer
It is presented as if most of these stations had never recorded such a high temperature before which is partially true. Most stations have a record going back only a few decades.
The Wikipedia article states that “Sydney beat the January 1939 record of 45.3°C (113.5°F), recording 45.8°C (114.4°F) on January 18” but neglects to mention that this station is in the middle of a circular on-ramp for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Its hard to find older data for other stations nearby to see how much of that the broken record could be attributed to UHI because few stations have records before 1950 and it does appear that summers are getting angrier since then. Bathurst is on the other side of the Blue Mountains and it only recorded 39.0°C that day in 2013. It was a degree lower than its highest every recorded which was a week earlier that month but there were three days of slightly higher temperatures in January of 1939 that are ignored because they haven’t been fully quality controlled.
Another example of this exceptional hissy fit is “while Adelaide reached 45.0°C (113.0°F), its second hottest temperature on record after the 45.7°C (114.3°F) of January 2009”. This is for the inner-city site of Kent Town opened in 1979 and doesn’t include the the park-land site of West Terrace which recorded 46.1°C in 1939. The better comparison is Adelaide Airport which only recorded a highest maximum of 44.1°C in 2013.
“Hobart recorded 41.8°C (107.2°F) on January the 4th, beating its previous record by a whole degree”. That was in 1976 but more interesting is that the mean maximum for that month was over one degree less than the highest recorded. Hobart’s heat was an example of very variable weather in the southern most city of Australia rather than global climate change.
Our official highest maximum recorded was 50.7°C 44 years ago and this was not equaled anywhere in 2013 despite the higher number of stations. This official maximum had been exceeded many times in previous years but the data is considered unreliable.
For example, the January of 1906 at the Mildura Post Office had a January monthly mean of 39°C with the three highest temperatures being 50.7, 50.1 and 49.4°C. (newspapers record it as 123 and 124°F).
Mildura’s official highest ever recorded is considered to be 46.9°C (24 years ago) because the earlier readings are not considered reliable. A newspaper article written 40 years later claimed that the 1906 temperatures were taken in a Stevenson screen but I found one that suggests that it was installed in late 1906 and the previous temperatures might have been as much as 4°C more than would have been recorded within the screen.http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/56972408?searchTerm=Mildura%20stevenson%20screen&searchLimits=l-australian=y|||sortby=dateAsc|||l-category=Article . Adjusting the temperatures down by 4°C still gives 3 days above 45°C and 6 days above 40°C.
The maximum temperature at Mildura Airport in January of 2013 had only one day at 45.0°C and seven days over 40°C, and a monthly mean of 34.7 which is 4.3°C below the 1906 average.
Adelaide is the nearest largest city and its monthly mean for January in 1906 was 2.5°C above the 2013 mean maximum for January. Melbourne had a similar mean for January in 1906 as 2013 but its highest of 43.1°C, is a couple of degrees higher which all indicate that the heatwave was widespread in SE Australia. Both older measurements were taken in park land while the 2013 temperatures were measured in built up areas.
Bourke Post Office had 4.2°C above its mean in January of 1906, a highest maximum of 48.9°C and 18 days over 40°C. Bourke Airport in 2013 had a mean maximum temperature half a degree less, highest maximum of 48.3°C. and only 14 days over 40°C. These were all measured inside Stevenson Screens.
This is just a small sample in SE Australia but it does show that the summer was unusually angry here only because the tantrum in 1906 and the furniture throwing of 1939 were ignored (let alone the ridiculous heat of the 19th century that went berserk and killed hundreds in Bourke).
Stevenson screens were widespread by 1939 but that summer was not as hot under the collar as 2013, apparently. The January of this year in Mildura had a maximum temperature of 47.2°C, a mean of 38.2°C, and six days above 45°C. It was certainly pissed off in Mildura that year. Adelaide couldn’t appease it either. The mean for that month was 3.2°C more than for January 2013 with a highest recorded temperature of 46.1°C. Melbourne’s mean was only slightly higher for January in 1939 than 2013 but the highest recorded was a lot higher at 45.6°C, while the summer in Bourke was equally upset in 1939 as in 2013.
This is only a small corner of the continent so I can’t claim that the angry summer of 2013 was not exceptional for the country as a whole but do remember that nowhere was the temperature recorded above 50°C, and the mean temperatures have risen just 0.4°C in the southern hemisphere since 1940. It would be no surprise that the latest spate of angry summers would carry an extra bitch slap but that they occur is due to weather patterns that occurred before and so cannot be explained by global warming. They certainly aren’t a hand print of climate change but this propaganda is a good example of the shilliness coming