The likelihood of Perth sweating through a 50 degree summer sometime in the future is “quite high,” according to new research released on Thursday.
Man-made climate change is likely to have played a role in the “extreme summer” experienced this year, and it will become even more frequent and severe around the country, a study led by the University of Melbourne showed.
Study co-author David Karoly said the chance of Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide eventually experiencing 50 degree days “are quite high” due to ongoing climate change.
He said the study showed, with more than 90 per cent confidence, that human influences on the atmosphere dramatically increased the likelihood of the extreme 2013 summer.
While the Bureau of Meteorology has agreed that hotter summers were more likely than cooler summers in the future, it does not mean that “every summer” will see high temperatures.
Seasonal models predict that temperatures in Perth are on the increase, however cooler changes can occur, a BOM spokesman said on Thursday.
“The science indicates that temperatures are warming, but it doesn’t mean that every summer will be hot – it would depend year to year,” he said.
“Based on evidence and what we know, temperatures in summer are going to increase, as they have over the last 20 years. The likelihood of these warmer summers is increasing.
“What happens normally over summer is a cycle of six days where the temperature gradually warms up and then we get a cooler change – so it’s unusual for us to get 10 days of temperatures in the high 30s – which happened last summer.”
Professor Karoly said last summer had not only broken records, but had occurred under weather conditions that usually would have produced cooler temperatures.
“This extreme summer is not only remarkable for its record-breaking nature but also because it occurred at a time of weak La Nina to neutral conditions, which generally produces cooler summers,” Professor Karoly said.
Dubbed “Australia’s angry hot summer” by the Climate Commission, parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia experienced their highest temperatures on record in 2013 and much of the country sweltered through temperatures very much above average, Prof Karoly said.
– with AAP