Saturday, 23 March 2013

Australia, the January 2013 "heatwave" - highs or hype?

The Australian press, reporting claims made by the BOM, had a great time front-paging "the hottest summer evah" in Oz history. The Climate Commission then produced its "Angry Summer" report, with this (UK) "Daily Mail"-type graphic. If you want objective reporting of course, look no further, because you won't find any in that thoroughly alarmist piece of hype.

One of those claims on the graphic can be dismissed immediately, that of the "hottest January on record". Using GISS records, here are the January 2013 averages and record year, clockwise around Oz from Cairns, Queensland, using all available stations.

Station/Jan 2013 avgRecord
Cairns (airport) 28.429.6 in 1924
Townsville 29.129.6 in 1994
Mackay 27.728.4 in 1987
Rockhampton 28.528.6 in 1982
Amberley Aero (20km SW Brisbane) 26.526.9 in 1987
Brisbane (Eagle Farm) 26.2equal with 2004
Coffs Harbour, NSW 24.224.6 in 2004
Williamtown (15km N Newcastle) 24.525.0 in 1998
Sydney Airport 24.424.8 in 1946
Nowra 22.823.5 in 1991
Canberra Airport 23.124.2 in 1981
Wagga Airport 26.627.6 in 2006 (earliest exceeded 27.3 in 1979)
Moruya Heads 21.021.3 in 1946
Wilsons Promontory 18.619.4 in 1959
Eddystone Point, TAS 18.819.3 in 2010
Hobart Airport 18.219.0 in 2003 (exceeded in several years)
Melbourne Airport, VIC 20.921.9 in 1974
Laverton Aero (Melbourne), VIC 20.522.9 in 1981
Cape Nelson (nr Portland), VIC 18.619.8 in 1974
Mt Gambier Airport, SA 19.021.8 in 1974
Robe (P.O.), SA 18.820.5 in 1961
Nuriootpa (N of Adelaide), SA 21.824.4 in 1979 (& others later)
Woomera Aerodrome, SA 18.619.8 in 1974
Broken Hill, NSW 27.829.7 in 1979
Marree, SA 31.433.2 in 1999 (& others earlier)
Oodnadatta Airport, SA 32.434.3 in 2011
Alice Springs, NT 30.932.1 in 2006
Tarcoola, SA 28.830.9 in 1979
Ceduna Airport, SA 22.624.5 in 2001
Eucla, SA 23.324.2 in 2010
Esperance, WA 22.322.8 in 1979
Albany, WA 20.721.0 in 1974
Kalgoorlie, WA 26.828.2 in 2010
Cape Leeuwin, WA 21.722.1 in 2012
Perth Airport, WA 25.428.0 in 1962

Perth is interesting - the airport consistently records about 1 degree cooler than Perth itself. Hillarys Boat Harbour (no GISS records, ABSLMP data used), on the southern outskirts, records just a tad lower than the airport. UHI in action? Onward and upward (literally northward) to the hottest regions.....

Station/Jan 2013 avgRecord
Geraldton Airport, WA 26.629.4 in 1962
Meekatharra, WA 31.734.7 in 2008
Carnarvon Airport, WA 29.729.9 in 1974
Learmonth Airport, WA 31.632.7 in 2005
Wittenoom, WA 31.335.4 in 2005 (31.3 is unremarkable)
Darwin, NT 29.429.7 in 1970

Darwin's a good place to finish off - between here and Cairns, where I started, is the "back o'Bourke" with no GISS staions with relevant data. I intended to flag new records by highlighting in red, but as you can see (if you read this far), not even one GISS station has thrown up a record for January 2013, despite GHCN/GISS "adjustments" which "cool the past". So much for the BOM's "record summer" - unremarkable with a few hot days. Their Special Climate Statement 43 – extreme heat in January 2013 (pdf) is worth a read - either be amazed (and worried) or view it with a sceptical eye, and note that their "record temps at 44 long-record stations" list is outweighed by the greater number of long-record stations which did not record new records. They even thought it worth mentioning that Adelaide recorded its fourth-highest temperature for January - WOW!

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