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How Extreme Are Australian Summer Months

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Australia’s climate varies significantly throughout the eight states and territories. The summer period runs from December to February. Most summers in Australia are characterized by prolonged periods of heatwaves. The Australian summers keep getting hotter; the 2018-19 summer was the warmest summer on record. During the 2018-19 summer, the natural average temperature was 2.1℃ higher than the average, leaving many Australians in need of Extrordinair – air conditioning services. This was much higher than the record high set during the 2012-13 summer, which was 1.28℃ higher than the average. The 2019-20 summer was the second hottest summer at 1.88℃ above the average temperature. How extreme are the Australian summer months?

Heatwaves Intensification

In comparison to the previous decades, Australia has recorded an increase in summer heatwaves in the 2000s. The heatwaves are projected to increase further in the future. Heat Waves consist of high temperatures that occur for at least three consecutive days. They have a significant impact on human health, agriculture, ecosystems, and the economy. Over the past years, heat waves have increased in intensity, duration, and frequency. Scientists attribute the recent increase in heatwave intensification to several factors associated with global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Above-Average Rainfall

Above-average rainfalls that elevate the right of flooding often characterize Australia’s summers. As of December 2020, there was intense rainfall on the east coast. The rainfall for the 2020-21 summer was 29% above average for entire Australia. This summer was the wettest since the 2016-17 summer. December 2020 was the third wettest since the inception of national rainfall records in 1900. The rainfall was above average for many areas, including Western Australia, far northern Queensland, New South Wales, and western South Australia. Rain was below average for eastern Queensland at the south of Mackay. 

Bushfires During Summer in Australia

During the summer of 2019-20, the most catastrophic summer bushfire hit Australia. The impacts of this tragedy will be felt for years to come, given that so much was lost. The fire swept across 19 million hectares; 12.6 million hectares consisted of forest and bushland. Thirty-three people lost their lives while 3094 homes were destroyed. According to a report released six months after the fire by a team of scientists from Australian universities, the bush fire impacted almost 3 billion animals. Early in January 2020, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimated that 1.25 billion animals had died in the summer fire. The fire ranged well into March and destroyed vast habitats. It injured, killed, and displaced thousands of koalas. 

Worsening Drought

Due to heat fluctuations and the destruction of habitats by wildfires, Australian summers often lead to worsening droughts. Many areas that experience the monsoonal low during summer go from drought conditions to floods in days. 

Conclusion

Australian summers aren’t always predictable. Despite the persistent increase in summer temperatures, the national mean maximum temperature for summer 2020-21 was below average at −0.28 °C. For much of the mainland, the mean maximum temperatures were cooler than average. Summer conditions vary from year to year. In addition, different regions in Australia experience distinct summer conditions.  

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