The end of the Australian winter triggered a brief comment from Viv from Earlville in the short bites part of the Letters page last Thursday:
Interesting report from the weather bureau that Australia has just had one of the coldest winters on record. Must be the climate change that we keep getting told about.It is, of course, possible that Australia could have an unusually cold winter. Climate change brings a warming trend, but there is still variation around that trend. But such cold events are becoming increasingly rare, especially across large geographic areas, so I thought it was a claim that should be checked.
Seeking more information, I turned to the Bureau of Meteorology's website and came across its Australia in winter 2015 summary.
Winter was a warm season for most of Australia, but cooler than average for much of the southeast. Nationally, maximum temperatures were the equal-eighth warmest on record for winter and mean temperatures were the ninth warmest on record (anomalies of +0.83°C and +0.79°C respectively). The national minimum temperature anomaly was also above average at +0.75°C.So, from a report of one of our hotter winters on record, the correspondent had come away with the opposite impression. The report did note that it was Tasmania's 10th lowest on record, and its coldest since 1992. I suspect some cognitive bias has resulted in the correspondent incorrectly remembering this as being an Australia-wide figure.
Both maxima and minim were above to very much above average for Western Australia and Queensland, including an area of warmest-on-record for maximum temperatures in northwest Western Australia. Maximum temperatures were also above average for the north and west of the Northern Territory, and minimum temperatures above average for the north of South Australia.
Maximum temperatures were cooler than average for much of southeastern Australia although average to above average in eastern New South Wales. Minimum temperatures were cooler than average for Tasmania, and part of central Victoria, southeastern New South Wales, the northern agricultural districts of South Australia, and a pocket of the northwestern Alice Springs district in the Northern Territory.
While Australia had a hotter than average winter, the rest of the globe had its equal hottest June ever and its hottest July ever. I can't find August's end of month figures yet, but I suspect that Australia's winter will turn out, on a global scale, to be the hottest on record. 2015 is looking increasingly likely to be the hottest year on record, breaking last year's record.
It would be nice if the other wingnuts kept their falsehoods similarly short.