Thursday, October 31, 2013

El Niño Southern Oscillation activity and intensity increasing with Global Warming

A study by Australian and US researchers has found robust signs that global warming is having an increasing impact on the El Niño/La Nina (ENSO) cycle which drives a significant amount of changes to global weather. The El Nino cycle has been unusually active and intense in the 30 year period from 1979 to 2009, more than any time in the last 600 years, researchers found.

"Our research suggests in a warming world we are likely to see more extreme El Niño and La Nina events, which over the past decade in Australia have been related to extreme flooding, persistent droughts and dangerous fire seasons,” said lead author Dr Shayne McGregor from the University of NSW ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

“Importantly, this study not only tells us how ENSO activity has behaved in the past in relation to global average temperature, it also opens the window for climate models to be able to estimate more accurately how this activity will change in the future." said Dr McGregor.

Related: El Niño intensification means stronger droughts for Australia, storms for Kiribati

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tony Abbott in denial on bushfire climate change link

In a radio interview with Neil Mitchell, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the Head of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, is "talking through her hat" for connecting the NSW bushfires with climate change and that "these fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they are just a function of life in Australia."

It seems Mr Abbott is in denial on all the wildfire research done on the increase in fireweather and increase in frequency and intensity in bushfires both in Australia and globally.

Abbott articulated a list of major bushfire disasters in Australia as justification that climate change is not involved. Yet the science clearly shows the long term climate change trend for rising temperatures, with increasing frequency of heatwaves drying out forests and grasslands and driving reductions in humidity and soil moisture making extreme fireweather and bushfires more frequent and more intense.

Earlier this year just after the Tasmanian bushfires wiped out the town of Dunalley with people fleeing the inferno by boat, Prime Minister Julia Gillard linked the increasing frequency and intensity of bushfires generally to climate change conditions. At least she reads what climate scientists say on bushfires and climate change, unlike the present Prime Minister.

Related: Raging Bushfires surround Sydney with early start to Fire season | Mega bushfire feared as State of Emergency declared in NSW

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mega bushfire feared as State of Emergency declared in NSW

After two days of milder weather temperature and wind conditions are again worsening over the next few days. The fear is that the multiple fires through the Blue Mountains could link up to form a mega conflagration imperiling all the mountain communities that nest along the Great Western Highway. The fire could funnel down the Grose Valley joining the Springwood fire and crossing the Hawkesbury River to threaten the Richmond and Penrith districts of Western Sydney.

The Premier of NSW Barry O'Farrell on Sunday declared a 30 day State of Emergency which will give additional powers to emergency personnel in ordering evacuations and combatting the bushfires. An indefinite total fire ban has also been declared for Sydney, Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven & Central Ranges.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Raging Bushfires surround Sydney with early start to Fire season

Widespread October bushfires in NSW are unusual, but have happened before, such as in 1991. This year there was an Early start to Australian bushfires, record temperatures in early September.

It is now the 7th time this bushfire season a total fire ban has been declared in Sydney. Very Unusual. If the fire weather is this bad so early in the season, it can get worse over the coming months as Summer heats up, especially if we have extreme summer heatwaves similar to 2013. Here is the 2013/2014 bushfire outlook from the Bushfire CRC:


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

El Niño intensification means stronger droughts for Australia, storms for Kiribati

El Niño is likely to become more intense with climate change, and produce drier conditions for Australia and the Western Pacific, with increases in rainfall in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific in the mid to late twenty first century, according to new research.

It is the first time climate scientists have produced robust results from modelling to conclude that climate change has a substantial impact on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle in the future. But a 2010 study by scientists from NASA and NOAA provided some signs.

So, a stronger El Niño is likely to bring more intense drying which may exacerbate drought and bushfire weather. In the central pacific island nation of Kiribati El Niño will bring more intense rain and floods. More intense Winter rain and floods may be felt in California, northwest Mexico and southwest United States, as well as down the west coast of South America, and even further afield.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Climate Departure: Oceans already outside historical variability as cities and ecosystems follow


Researchers from the University of Hawaii have estimated the year when we depart the climate variability we have historically known for cities around the globe. But the study also identifies that the planet's oceans have already passed their climate departure point, and that the greatest impact of global warming will be felt in biodiversity and ecosystems in the tropics.

In a study published in Nature - The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability (abstract) - researchers lead by Camilo Mora from the Geography Department at the University of Hawaii sought to identify the point at which the climate at 54,000 locations on Earth will exceed the bounds of historical variability. They used a baseline period of 1860 to 2005 to determine natural temperature variability. Using results averaged from 39 different climate models, they then determined for each location measured the year point in which the coldest years are likely to be consistently hotter than any of the past 150 years.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Colorado extreme rainfall and flood event of 2013



Like many people around the world I watched and followed the astonishing rainfall and flood events in Colorado in September this year that resulted in at least 10 deaths, damaged some 18,000 homes, caused the evacuation of more than 10,000 people, washing away roads and bridges and isolating communities for a time. The rain and flood event is estimated to have caused $2 billion worth of damage.

The extent of the rainfall was unprecedented in meteorological records that stretch back a little more than 100 years. The extreme rainfall event has been described as a 1 in 1,000 year event. An Extremely rare combination of weather factors combining to produce the event.

Climate change however stacks the dice in several ways in increasing the probability of this event occurring in the future. A primary contribution is the increase in atmospheric capacity to carry water vapour which scientists have worked out to be 6 per cent to 7.5 per cent for each degree Celsius in average global warming. By the end of this century with average global surface temperatures projected to increase by 4 to 5 degrees with current business as usual scenarios, the atmospheric carrying capacity may be an extra 30 per cent, making extreme precipitation events like the Colorado event much more likely to occur.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hottest September and hottest 12 months on record for Australia


Even though the global land surface temperatures have appeared to plateau since 1998 - a global hiatus - other measurements show global warming has continued with continued warming of the oceans, sea level rise, melting of Arctic sea ice, continued retreat of mountain glaciers. 2000 to 2010 was also the hottest decade on record.

Significantly, Australia has broken many temperature records this year with the extreme January heatwave and Angry Summer, sizzling warming into late Autumn, a relatively warm Winter, and now the hottest September on record averaged across Australia, and the hottest 12 months on record. Australia is also on track for the hottest calendar year this year.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

IPCC report: Climate Council Q & A with Professor Will Steffen

While the AMOS event was occurring Professor Will Steffen and Amanda MacKenzie from the Climate Council conducted a live Q and A via twitter, facebook and youtube on the IPCC report.

The Climate Council was established two weeks ago after the Climate Commission was abolished as one of the first acts of the new Federal Government lead by Tony Abbott. The public reaction to the axing of the Climate Commission was an outpouring of donations to the new non-government Climate Council to continue it's valuable work. More than $1 million has been raised from 20,000 people, mostly in small donations.

IPCC: Climate change is unequivocal with rapid and substantive emissions reduction required

The original of this article was published on the Climate Action Moreland website.


A packed hall last thursday night (3 October) in Melbourne heard from Australian climate scientists on the latest science report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I was one of four members of Climate Action Moreland who attended.

The Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) organised the free public event in Melbourne to explore the findings and significance of the latest comprehensive report on the science of climate change. It was so popular that 700 people registered to attend - the capacity of the hall, and a further 200 people enquiring had to be turned away or put on a waiting list.