Making the link between extreme weather and climate change

aussie extreme heatNEWSFLASH: Record breaking heat on October 25, 2014.  Read more below.

This just in from down under:  current Australian heat waves are “almost certainly” a direct consequence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.  According to the NYT, five groups of researchers used distinct methods to analyze the high temps that baked Australia in 2013 and 2014, and all five concluded that “last year’s heat waves could not have been as severe without the long-term climatic warming caused by human emissions.”  David Karoly, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne who led some of the research, said that “when we look at the heat across the whole of Australia and the whole 12 months of 2013, we can say that this was virtually impossible without climate change.” These papers were among two dozen analyzing weather extremes from 2013 that were published yesterday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, part of an annual issue that tries to answer the question of whether climate change has anything to do with extreme weather events.  According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Martin P. Hoerling, who has skeptically viewed claims about links between weather events and global warming, “the evidence in those papers is very strong.”

These study results come at a propitious time.  Australia’s newly elected prime minister, Tony Abbott,bams_eee_2013_cover repealed the carbon tax and trading laws introduced by the Rudd government after it joined the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 (and Julia Gillard recommitted the country to a second round of the KP from 2012-2020).  Abbott’s government has also appointed a climate skeptic to lead review of the country’s renewable energy targets.  Consequently, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop was one of the speakers at last week’s UN Climate Summit who only reiterated past pledges: reducing emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020.  In this new landscape of nationally determined commitments, she suggested that Australia’s emission reduction target compares well with those of other countries.  “This is a bipartisan target. It is an ambitious target because it means that Australia will reduce its emissions by 22% against business-as-usual levels. This compares well to the targets of other major economies.”

UPDATE:  As the ADP2-6 concluded, Australia experienced the hottest October day since 1910.  According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Australia’s first major heatwave of the warming season has broken temperature  records across the nation, more than a month before the official start to  summer.  On Saturday, the country set its warmest October day in records going back to  1910, with average maximums across the nation reaching 36.39 degrees, according  to the Bureau of Meteorology.”