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July closes in on hot all-time high

Professor Will Steffen.

Professor Will Steffen. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Canberra is set to log its hottest July on record, breaking records set in the mid-1990s.

But meteorologists are predicting cooler days and higher than average rainfall for the coming months.

And climate scientists say the unusually warm July serves as a reminder of the effects of human-made climate change.

Aaron Coutts-Smith, manager of climate services at the Bureau of Meteorology, said on Tuesday Canberra this month had recorded an average maximum temperature of 13.3 degrees, compared with the 13.2 degrees average recorded in 1993 and 1994. If the temperature reaches more than 12 degrees on Wednesday, the last day of the month, he said it would be Canberra's hottest July since records began in 1939.

Canberra generally averages minus 0.1 degrees overnight in July, he said, but this year the overnight average has been 1.6 degrees.

Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University's Climate Change Institute, said one record-breaking month was not particularly significant in considering the impact of human activity on the climate, but it served as a reminder that the climate was warming.

''I think whether it's a record warm month or a record hot day, it does grab people's attention and I think that's a good thing,'' he said.

''But I think what needs to be done is some serious examination of the entire data record, of the underlying science, so that people get the understanding the scientific basis for human caused climate change is really strong. That's not debated.''

Professor Steffen said at least three decades of climate data needed to be considered to determine a trend and a long-term analysis shows a warming in south-eastern Australia over the past century.

''With that underlying trend of a warming climate, it loads the dice towards having record high temperatures - whether it's a day, whether it's a summer, whether it's a month,'' he said.

Mr Coutts-Smith said Canberra's rainfall in July had been close to average but there had been relatively few rainy days. High pressure systems had dominated with warm winds coming from the north and north-west.

But he said the outlook for NSW and the ACT over the next three months was for above average rainfall and cooler days and nights.

Warmer than average July temperatures were recorded in many parts of eastern Australia, with Sydney also likely to record its hottest July, recording nearly 3 degrees above the average maximum day time temperature. NSW was likely to record its third hottest July on record, recording 1.9 degrees above average during the day.

Mr Coutts-Smith said Sydney had seen a long-term trend towards warmer temperatures and was known to experience ''urban heat island effect''.

''Where you have a build-up of buildings and hard surfaces like asphalt - so roads - you can create a warming effect,'' he said.


  • Warmer days are a result of climate change?? Lol, how about just normal seasonal change?? Really a .1 degree change since 1993 is not reason to stand ontop of a mountain claiming climate change and we're all going to suffer. Climate change is absolute rubbish.

    Date and time
    July 31, 2013, 6:41AM
    • Right Adzz, you dig your hole in the sand for your head just a bit deeper. These kinds of events are entirely in line with predictions for climate change and in fact are a warning call for what we have to face in the coming decades. The hottest summer on record, basically no winter in Canberra this year in July?? late July and August used to be a pretty sure bet for a decent trip skiing but in the last few decades that has begun to be proven wrong only too regularly. Have a look back in history at some of the snow fall totals that used to occur. Of course there was the occasional bad one but the bad ones are becoming far far more frequent and the resorts are barely scraping through at present and are on track for almost the worst July snow cover ever.

      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 8:48AM
    • Adzz, I agree with what you stated, except for that last sentence. So all those scientists are wrong. It's funny how for some people science research can be absolute rubbish, but when they get really sick they're prepared to trust the research of the graduates of (medical) science. You need to watch

      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 8:57AM
  • Sweeeet, my house will be beach front in no time.

    Date and time
    July 31, 2013, 9:20AM
    • Milo ill join you for a surf

      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 9:53AM
  • "But meteorologists are predicting cooler days and higher than average rainfall for the coming months."

    Date and time
    July 31, 2013, 10:02AM
    • "climate scientists say the unusually warm July serves as a reminder of the effects of human-made climate change"

      :shakes head:

      You really still think that stopping carbon emissions will stop this warming trend, do you?

      If the public are not yet sick and tired of hearing this scapegoat, they soon will be, and believe me they will switch off! Please stop supporting Tim Flannery's movement and start waking up to the fact that man cannot control the weather.

      Please look for the real facts, like why the high pressure systems and the "cold fronts" are missing their targets, why the weather systems themselves that usually bring us our normal winters, seem to be persistently working differently lately. This is a trend of only a few years ago (since about 2005), not a few decades ago as Flannery's team of propagandists and spin-doctors want us to believe.

      Real facts not scary propaganda about what will happen "at the end of the century", please.

      Thank You,

      Loyal Fairfax Reader

      Please stop pushing the "carbon emissions causes global warming" agenda
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 12:21PM
      • Climate change is real. But the earth has always been undergoing change throughout its 4.5 billion year history, and will continue to do so. The sun gets 10% hotter for every billion years that pass. Other earthly events will intervene anyway to change the climate. The super volcano under yellowstone nat. park - Wyoming, blows up every 600,000 years or so, and the last time it blew was about 600,000 years ago. When it does the planet will be shrouded in debris for at least a decade rendering solar panels ineffective, and will have dramatic effects on all life. But the earth will recover from this. It's far more resilient than most people think in my view. A bit of climate change induced by humans is negligible compared to these types of events. cheers.

        Date and time
        July 31, 2013, 1:06PM
        • Wasn't last winter, 2012, the coldest for something like 34 years??? No one was bleating about global warming then! No we have a warm ish July and suddenly it's climate change. If we have been recording weather events in Canberra since only 1939 (only 74 years out of the several billion years the earth has existed), then one could reasonably expect we will be breaking records on a reasonably regular basis. But global warming in July 2013 being caused by man is a crock!!

          Date and time
          July 31, 2013, 8:13PM
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