Tuesday 27th September 2016                 Change text size:

2013 Australian heatwave caused by climate change, studies argue



Cimexus via flickr

Four separate studies by Australian universities have concluded that the extremely hot temperatures that hit the country last year were almost certainly related to rising greenhouse gas emissions and have urged the climate-sceptic government to take action.

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The findings of the separate pieces of research from the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the University of NSW were published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society as part of a global project on climate change.

Scientists analysed last year’s record-breaking hottest month, day, summer and spring, when temperatures reached peaks of over 40C, with some areas reaching 48-49C, and said these were “virtually impossible without the influence of global warming”.

Sophie Lewis, from the Australian National University said, “When it comes to what helped cause our hottest year on record, climate change is no longer a prime suspect, it is the guilty party.

“Too often we talk about climate change impacts as if they are far in the future. This research shows they are here, now”.

Sarah Perkins from the University of New South Wales added, “The most striking aspect of the extreme heat of 2013 and its impacts is that this is only at the very beginning of the time when we are expected to experience the first impacts of climate change.

“If we continue to put carbon into our atmosphere at the currently accelerating rate, years like 2013 will quickly be considered normal and the impacts of future extremes will be well beyond anything modern society has experienced.”

Previously, separate studies have warned that with the intensifying effects of climate change, Australia would be five times more likely to see extreme weather in the future, such as heat waves and severe droughts.

Despite the stark warnings coming from the scientific community, the country became the first to scrap the carbon tax, following the election of liberal and climate-sceptic prime minister Tony Abbott.

Photo: Cimexus via flickr

Further reading:

Study: Australia will see more extreme weather because of climate change

Human activity will contribute to Australian extreme weather

UN: 13 of 14 warmest years on record were in 21st century

Australia first country to ‘irresponsibly’ scrap the carbon tax

Climate change causes Australian temperatures to break records in 2013


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