Adelaide is the hottest city on the planet
Only a few coastal capital cities have recorded temperatures to match the heat expected in Adelaide today, although Kuwait City experienced a whole month of heatwave conditions with average temperatures above 46 degrees.PT1M14S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-30vcj 620 349 January 16, 2014
Fierce heat from Australia's second big heatwave of the summer will push further into NSW on Thursday, extending the band of 40-degree maximums closer to Sydney, as a new report says climate change will bring more such extreme conditions.
Sea breezes should continue to shield the city from the worst of the heat, with 30, 29 and 30-degree maximums forecast from Thursday to Saturday. Penrith, which copped 39 degrees on Wednesday, can expect tops of 38, 37 and 40 degrees over the three days before a cool change arrives late on Saturday.
This is one of the years the climate signal is more prominent
A trough that might have brought more moderate temperatures to NSW was stuck further south than expected, said Guy Dixon, a meteorologist with Weatherzone. ''The heat has crept a bit further north,'' he said.
Melburnians keep cool at Brighton Beach. Photo: Getty Images
Penrith, which has an average January maximum about 5 degrees higher than Sydney's Observatory Hill, will be 8-10 degrees warmer than the downtown region.
As of about 8.30 am on Thursday, both Sydney and Penrith were just above 24 degrees, while the state's hottest spot was Narrandera Airport in the Riverina with 33.9 degrees.
Wednesday was another scorcher for inland regions. Hay and Deniliquin topped 44 degrees and the two Riverina towns can expect similarly sweltering heat until Sunday.
Australian heat cut in two by tropical low from the north, as at 5pm AEDT on Thursday.
South Australia and Victoria endured another day of blistering temperatures with overnight temperatures dropping only as low as 29.9 degrees on Thursday morning. Just before 8 am, local time, the city was already 34.6 degrees, the bureau said. Strathalbyn, south-east of Adelaide, was on 36.1 degrees, to be the hottest site in SA.
The mercury climbed to 43.7 degrees in Adelaide on Wednesday and the Bureau of Meteorology is expecting 46 on Thursday, close to the city's record of 46.1 degrees set in 1939.
Such a peak would make it the world's warmest city on Thursday, according to ABC News Radio, citing United Nations forecasts. The city can expect a fifth consecutive day of 40 degrees or higher on Friday.
Heatwave engulfs South Eastern Australia
Sisters Latesha Niazi aged 9 on right and Latoya Niazi aged 11 from Wetherill Park swimming in the Parramatta lake in Sydney. Photo: Tamara Dean
Melbourne's 41.7 degrees on Wednesday will be backed up with a 44-degree blast on Thursday, with 42 degrees for Friday before a blustery and potentially dangerous cool change for firefighters.
The mercury in Melbourne had passed 30 degrees around 8 am, while Longerenong, north of the Grampians, was Victoria's hottest site with 35.6 degrees recorded just after 6 am.
Severe fire danger ratings have been declared for the ACT, the southern ranges and southern slopes of NSW for Thursday, with the rest of the state rated either high or very high. For Victoria, the south west and north central regions will have severe fire danger ratings, with the rest of the state rated very high.
Melbourne's overnight minimum of 28.6 degrees on Wednesday was its third-hottest. Laverton, on the city's south-western fringe, clocked up 37.4 at midnight, the state's second-highest ever for that time.
Charlton, in Victoria’s Mallee was the country’s hottest site at 46.2 degrees. The town also recorded 46.5 on Tuesday, and it is forecast to sweat through maximums of 45 on both Thursday and Friday, the bureau said.
Analysis of the latest heatwave data by climate scientists indicates that Australians can expect more such heatwaves as global warming takes hold, according to a new report by the Climate Council.
The council, which turned to crowd-sourced funding after being axed by the Abbott government, said heatwaves are one of the most direct consequences of climate change in an interim report, Hotter, Longer, Earlier and More Often.
Sarah Perkins, a heatwave researcher at the University of NSW, said heatwave days had become more common in every mainland city over the past six decades except Brisbane. Sydney, for instance, went from six such days in a typical year to nine, when the 1950-80 and 1980-2011 periods were compared.
Canberra had the biggest jump, with heatwave days more than doubling from six to 13, Dr Perkins said. Melbourne's increased one day to six.
“The number of heatwave days and the intensity of heatwave days has actually got worse,” she said.
A longer heatwave season was one reason more such extreme days were being recorded. Also worrying is that this summer’s heatwaves - which include the belter that broke records across Queensland and northern NSW this month - have come during a period when the key El Nino-Southern Oscillation pattern over the Pacific has been in a neutral phase.
“It’s not an El Nino year. None of the climate drivers are really in a phase to have such extreme temperatures consistently,” Dr Perkins said. “This is one of the years the climate signal is more prominent.”
While there will still be record cold events, hot records are running at about three times the rate of cold records, the report said.
“Australia has always had hot weather. However, climate change is loading the dice toward more extreme hot weather,” Dr Steffen said.
“The current conditions that Australians are experiencing are becoming more common. The current heatwave follows on from a year of extreme heat, the hottest summer on record and the hottest year on record,” he said.