Bob Ward: What a heatwave in Australia tells us about climate change and the extreme weather we can expect in the future
WE are barely a fortnight into the New Year, but already 2013 is producing record-breaking weather, continuing the pattern of the past 12 months.
A heatwave in Australia that started in late December has intensified and now forced the Bureau of Meteorology to reset the upper limit of its daily temperature scale, as the previous record of 50.7 centigrade degrees, set in South Australia in 1960, could be dramatically smashed over the weekend. It is a measure of just how extreme this heatwave is that a national meteorological organisation is struggling to re-calibrate its monitoring methods by adding an extra four degrees to its scale. It is a sign of things to come.
All across the globe, people are still coming to terms with the consequences of extreme weather events in 2012. A heatwave in the United States that created 15,000 new daily temperature records contributed to an exceptional and widespread drought that left farmers counting the cost of devastated crop yields, during the warmest ever year for the contiguous 48 states.