Australia endures record-breaking summer temperatures
AFP Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 12:09 am TWN
SYDNEY--Australia has endured another "angry summer" with more than 150 temperature records smashed, a new report said Monday, with a warning that heatwaves and sweltering conditions will only get worse.
Among the records broken, Perth had its hottest night ever at 29.7 Celsius, Adelaide recorded its warmest February day at 44.7 Celsius, while Sydney went through its driest summer in 27 years, the independent Climate Council watchdog said.
It follows Australia experiencing its hottest year on record in 2013, according to official figures.
"Australia experienced another angry summer," said council scientist Tim Flannery, whose organization analyzes climate data from across the country.
"We had substantial heat records, heatwaves and other extreme weather events."
Australia's southeast bore the brunt with prolonged heatwaves in Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra while parts of the states of South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria were ravaged by bushfires.
Elsewhere, drought conditions blighted inland parts of the country's east with Queensland in the grip of its most widespread drought ever, while areas in the north and west experienced above average rainfall.
The latest report follows a joint study last week by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Bureau of Meteorology that said temperatures across Australia were, on average, almost 1.0 degree Celsius warmer than a century ago.
It said seven of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998 while over the past 15 years the frequency of very hot months has increased five-fold.
"The latest summer was another example of climate change tearing through the record books," Flannery said.
"It's not just about one summer but an overall trend to more extreme weather.
"Things are getting bad and if we want to stop them getting worse this is the critical decade for action. We need to cut the emission of greenhouse gasses and we need to do it urgently."
Australia is among the world's worst per capita polluters due to reliance on coal-fired power and mining exports.
Since assuming office last September, the conservative government of Tony Abbott has moved to abolish an Australian carbon tax designed to combat climate change, which charges the biggest polluters for their emissions at a fixed price.
Abbott, a long-time climate change skeptic, instead favors a "direct action" plan that includes an incentive fund to pay companies to increase energy efficiency, a controversial sequestration of carbon in soil scheme, and the planting of 20 million trees.
The government last year abolished what was then the Climate Change Commission, saying an independent body was not needed.
But it was soon rebranded as the Climate Commission — a non-profit body funded by public donations to continue providing information campaigns about the science of climate change, emissions targets and international action.
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