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The New Normal: Australia Had Hottest Summer on Record

'By the end of the 21st century, the record summer of 2013 will likely sit at the very cooler end of normal.'

Australia has just experienced its hottest summer since record keeping began in 1910, the country's Bureau of Meteorology announced Thursday, continuing the climate change-induced trend of hotter, record-setting temperatures.

The average summer temperatures just experienced were 1.1°C above the 1961-1990 average, beating the previous record set in 1997-98.

During parts of December 2012 and January 2013, Australians sweltered under a record-breaking heatwave, during which the Bureau had to add a new color, deep purple, to its weather forecasting chart, to reflect the unprecedented heat.

The Bureau's Blair Trewin and Karl Braganza write:

Australia has warmed by nearly a degree Celsius since 1910. This is consistent with warming observed in the global atmosphere and oceans. And it’s going to keep getting hotter. Over the next century, the world will likely warm by a further 2 to 5 degrees, depending on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

Under mid-to-high emissions scenarios, summers like this one will likely become average in 40 years time. By the end of the 21st century, the record summer of 2013 will likely sit at the very cooler end of normal.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters adds this:

What's notable about the new summer heat record is that is occurred during a “neutral” period in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (there was neither a La Niña nor El Niño event present.) El Niño conditions add an extra natural bump to temperatures over Australia, and it is difficult to set all-time heat records unless there's an El Niño present. Before 2013, the hottest three summers on record in Australia occurred during El Niño years. Breaking an all-time hottest month and hottest summer record during a non-El Niño year is the type of event that would be difficult to have in Australia without a warming climate.


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