13 June 2024
Climate Extremes Australia: 2023 Extremes

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Understanding Climate Extremes in Australia

Climate extremes have been a topic of increasing concern globally, and Australia is no exception. A recent report titled “The State of Weather and Climate Extremes 2023” released by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes sheds light on the major events that unfolded in Australia in the year 2023. This comprehensive report, co-authored by over 30 leading climate scientists in Australia, aims to provide a clearer picture of the complexities surrounding climate extremes for both decision-makers and the general public.

The Director of the ARC Center, Professor Andy Pitman, highlighted the importance of compiling these extreme events into a cohesive narrative to help individuals understand the environmental changes occurring around them. The report delves into the various extreme weather events that occurred in 2023, their impacts, and the underlying causes as understood by scientists.

Intense Climate Events of 2023

One of the key observations from the report was the intensity of the extreme events in 2023. Professor Pitman noted that many of these events broke records and occurred with alarming frequency. The compounding nature of these events, happening closely together in time and space, had a significant impact on the environment, making them challenging to manage.

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The report also analyzed the influence of climate drivers such as El Niño and the Indian Ocean Dipole on the weather patterns observed throughout the year. It highlighted the transition from above-average rainfall in northern Australia to dry conditions in southern and eastern Australia as El Niño was declared. However, unexpected above-average rainfall in December, particularly in Northern Queensland due to Cyclone Jasper, added another layer of complexity to the climate patterns observed in 2023.

Temperature and Rainfall Trends in 2023

2023 was noted as the eighth hottest year on record in Australia, with temperatures surpassing the long-term average by 0.98°C. Winter in 2023 was the warmest since observations began in 1910, and September marked the driest month ever recorded. These temperature and rainfall trends underscore the significant impact of climate change on Australia’s weather patterns.

Globally, 2023 was also marked as the hottest year on record, with extreme events occurring in various parts of the world. From Canada’s unprecedented wildfire season to Europe’s heatwaves, the year was characterized by extreme weather phenomena. The report provided an overview of some international events to emphasize the interconnected nature of climate extremes across the globe.

Looking Ahead: Uncertainties in 2024

As for the predictions for 2024, Professor Pitman mentioned the likelihood of a weak El Niño or more neutral La Niña conditions. While the year is expected to be warm overall, the regional expression of extreme events in Australia remains uncertain. This uncertainty underscores the complexity of predicting climate extremes and the challenges faced in adapting to rapidly changing environmental conditions.

The “State of Weather and Climate Extremes 2023” report serves as a crucial resource in understanding the impact of climate change on Australia and the world at large. It emphasizes the need for immediate action to mitigate the effects of climate extremes, urging a shift towards reducing carbon emissions and investing in adaptation strategies. By heeding the insights provided in the report, individuals and policymakers can work towards a more sustainable future in the face of escalating climate challenges.

Links to additional Resources:

1. ARC Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes 2. Bureau of Meteorology 3. CSIRO

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Climate change, El Niño, Extreme weather

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is more rapid than previous changes, and is primarily...
Read more: Climate change

El Niño–Southern Oscillation
El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a climate phenomenon that exhibits irregular quasi-periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical Pacific Ocean. It affects the climate of much of the tropics and subtropics, and has links (teleconnections) to higher latitude regions of the world. The warming phase of...
Read more: El Niño–Southern Oscillation

Extreme weather
Extreme weather includes unexpected, unusual, severe, or unseasonal weather; weather at the extremes of the historical distribution—the range that has been seen in the past. Extreme events are based on a location's recorded weather history. They are defined as lying in the most unusual ten percent (10th or 90th percentile...
Read more: Extreme weather

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