"Angry Summer" just a taste of what's coming

BLISTERING heatwaves, record floods and menacing bushfires experienced during Australia's "Angry Summer" have been just a preview of what's to come, the Climate Commission has warned.

A report released yesterday on January's extreme weather events paints a bleak picture about the impact climate change might be having on the country.

The report's author Professor Will Steffen said while Australia had "always been the land of extremes", climate change was making the "weather worse".

He warned it was "highly likely" extreme heat would become more frequent and severe in the coming decades and said the decisions made in the next few years would largely determine the impact the weather had on future generations.

He said the commission remained "very concerned" the continuous emission of "more and more" greenhouse gases was increasing the risk of extreme weather.

Events referenced in the report include the effects of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald in late January, when record rainfalls triggered flooding in much of Queensland and northern NSW.

The rain fell hardest in the Burnett catchment near Bundaberg, Queensland and the Clarence catchment near Grafton, NSW.Earlier in the month, January 7 was the hottest day on record for Australia as a whole.

Summer in general was the hottest on record.

The heat wave brought catastrophic fire conditions to NSW, Tasmania and Victoria.Drastic weather changes continued has continued through February and March as an intense low pressure system hung off the south-east Queensland and northern NSW coasts.

At the time of going to press, a flood warning had been issued for 13 rivers in Queensland and 18 in NSW.

The commission was established in 2011 as an authoritative source of information of climate change science.

"Angry Summer" draws upon the latest research by the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and the intergovernmental panel on climate change.

Chief Commissioner Professor Tim Flannery said it was crucial the community was aware of the influence of climate change to ensure it was better equipped to handle weather events in the future.

A Climate Commission report has detailed broken weather records based on Bureau of Meteorology data.
A Climate Commission report has detailed broken weather records based on Bureau of Meteorology data.



January 7, 2013 - Hottest day on record for Australia as a whole. Average temperature peaked at 40.30degrees.

Record for the consecutive number of days where average daily maximum temperature for the whole of Australia was more than 39degrees. 

More than 70% of Australia experienced extreme temperatures at some stage during the heatwave of December - January 2012-13.


January 4, 2013 - 40 bushfires ignited across Tasmania under severe to extreme fire danger conditions. 

January 8 - NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons declares "One of the worst fire danger days on record for NSW".

In following weeks, major fires burn through more than 500,000ha of land.


Between January 22 and 29, extreme rainfall occurred over the east coast of Queensland and northern NSW as a result of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald Rainfall during that period alone was heavy enough to break the January monthly rainfall records for the area between Rockhampton and Bundaberg. 

The one-day rainfall averaged over the Burnett catchment in Queensland was nearly 70% higher than the previous record.

On January 25 many areas around Rockhampton recorded rainfall for a 24-hour period in excess of 400 mm. Maryborough had a January daily rainfall record of 258.8mm


Areas most affected by rain from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald were the Burnett catchment near Bundaberg in Queensland and the Clarence catchment near Grafton, NSW.

The flood peaked at 8.09m in Grafton, beating the 1890 record of 7.89m and 9.53 m in Bundaberg, beating the 1890 record of 9.04m.

Source: Climate Commission report
Source: Climate Commission report

Topics:  bushfires climate commission floods rain

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