Record heat sees Australia map upgrade

January 8, 2013
Sydneysiders and tourists cool off as they swim in the sea at Manly beach in Sydney on January 8, 2013. Extreme heat in Australia forced the government's weather bureau to upgrade its temperature scale, with new colours on the climate map to reflect new highs forecast next week.

Extreme heat in Australia forced the government's weather bureau to upgrade its temperature scale, with new colours on the climate map to reflect new highs forecast next week.

Central Australia was shown with a purple area on the latest Bureau of Meteorology forecast map issued for next Monday, a new colour code suggesting temperatures will soar above 50 Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).

The bureau's head of climate monitoring and prediction David Jones said the new scale, which also features a pink code for temperatures from 52 to 54 degrees, reflected the potential for old heat records to be smashed.

"The scale has just been increased today and I would anticipate it is because the forecast coming from the bureau's model is showing temperatures in excess of 50 degrees," Jones told Fairfax newspapers.

Australia's all-time record temperature is 50.7 degrees, set in January 1960 at Oodnadatta in the state of South Australia.

The nation as a whole experienced its hottest day on record on Monday with the average maximum temperature across the country hitting 40.33 degrees, surpassing the previous mark of 40.17 degrees set in 1972.

That record was likely to have tumbled on Tuesday, Jones said, with scorching temperatures across much of southeastern Australia including in Sydney where the mercury topped 42 degrees.

More than 100 fires blazed in , Australia's most populous state, where officials described the heat, wind and dry vegetation conditions as among the worst the state had ever seen for wildfires.

"We had the hottest day on for Australia (on Monday) and today it looks like we may well go better again," said Jones.

"This really puts the national dimension of this heat event into bigger context."

Aaron Coutts-Smith, the weather bureau's climate services manager, said the 's extent was unprecedented.

"What makes this event quite exceptional is how widespread and intense it's been," he said.

"We have been breaking records across all states and territories in Australia over the course of the event so far."

Speaking about devastating wildfires that razed 100 homes in the southern island state of Tasmania at the weekend, Prime Minister Julia Gillard warned this week that would see more extreme events due to global warming.

"Whilst you would not put any one event down to climate change, weather doesn't work like that, we do know over time that as a result of change we are going to see more extreme weather events and conditions," Gillard said Monday.

Explore further: Australia's Hobart experiences hottest day

Related Stories

Australia's Hobart experiences hottest day

January 4, 2013

Australia's southern island of Tasmania has experienced its hottest day since records began, with the capital Hobart sweltering at 41.8 Celsius (107.2 Fahrenheit) on Friday.

Australia to become hotter, drier: climate report

March 14, 2012

Australia's climate is warming at an alarming rate and is set to become drier despite recent record floods, scientists said in a report that warns of increased drought and fiercer storms.

Australia getting hotter and drier

October 2, 2007

A new climate change study in Australia predicted the country will be 5 degree Celsius hotter and 40-80 percent drier by the year 2070.

Recommended for you

Scientists solve mystery of unexplained 'bright nights'

June 21, 2017

Dating back to the first century, scientists, philosophers and reporters have noted the occasional occurrence of "bright nights," when an unexplained glow in the night sky lets observers see distant mountains, read a newspaper ...

New research leverages big data to predict severe weather

June 21, 2017

Every year, severe weather endangers millions of people and causes billions of dollars in damage worldwide. But new research from Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) and AccuWeather has found ...

Measuring biological dust in the wind

June 21, 2017

In the popular children's story "Horton Hears a Who!" author Dr. Seuss tells of a gentle and protective elephant who stumbles upon a speck of dust that harbors a community of microscopic creatures called the Whos living the ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.6 / 5 (11) Jan 08, 2013
"We had the hottest day on record for Australia (on Monday) and today it looks like we may well go better again"

At the same time as the U.S. experiences the hottest year on record - breaking 362 all time high temperatures - and 0 all time low temperatures.
4.1 / 5 (9) Jan 08, 2013
And in the same year that the Arctic ice cover reached its lowest extent ever recorded.
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2013
...and temperatures went to -48 Deg C in China!
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2013
The extremes are becoming more extreme. Exactly as the climate models predict.

Funny how science happens.
5 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2013
...and temperatures went to -48 Deg C in China!

Hey - we have a new cherry picker on the board. The U.S. breaks 362 all time high temperatures in one year - and 0 all time low temperatures. This is matched by one temperature record in China (without a reference so that we can check story out). What about Washington State on Sept 5th? Oh sorry - that was NutParker - or are you one and the same?
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2013
Temperatures have dropped down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius) in eastern Inner Mongolia, northern Xinjiang and the Arctic reaches of northeast China. (Mohe, in northeast China, holds China's record low temperature of minus 62.1 F, or minus 52.3 C, set on Feb. 13, 1962.)
1 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2013
It was 45C here in Adelaide (South Australia) on the day Oodnadatta hit 50C. We haven't had any bushfires...... yet.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.