|Dates||Early January – March 2013|
|Areas affected||Southern Queensland
New South Wales
The Australian summer of 2012–2013, known as the Angry Summer or Extreme Summer, resulted in 123 weather records being broken over a 90-day period, including the hottest day ever recorded for Australia as a whole, the hottest January on record, the hottest summer average on record, and a record seven days in a row when the whole continent averaged above 39 °C. Single-day temperature records were broken in dozens of towns and cities, as well as single-day rainfall records, and several rivers flooded to new record highs.
In January 2013, the Bureau of Meteorology altered its weather forecasting chart's temperature scale to include a range, coloured purple, between 52° and 54 °C. The reporting of the heatwave in the Australian media attracted controversy in the scientific community, as very few articles cited a correlation between the event and climate change, which it was directly correlated to according to studies conducted by the University of Melbourne.
70% of Australia was affected by the heat wave which developed after a persistent pool of hot air sat over the centre of the continent. According to climatologist David Jones, the hot weather began in September 2012. Maximum temperatures in late 2012 were up to 1.6 °C above average. Average daily maximum temperatures were the highest between 2 and 8 January 2013. The length of the heatwave in outback Queensland was unusually long. In some areas of that state the overnight temperature remained in the mid thirties.
Central Australia experienced a lack of cloud cover due to low moisture levels during the hottest part of the year. This allowed the conditions to get hotter and hotter. A monsoon trough which usually allows conditions to cool did not eventuate.
New record temperatures were recorded in every state and the two territories of Australia. The hottest day on record for the whole of Australia was 7 January 2013, at 40.30 °C. In a 90-day period 123 record-breaking weather events were recorded. Both Sydney and Hobart recorded their hottest temperatures on record in January 2013. Sydney beat the January 1939 record of 45.3 °C (113.5 °F), recording 45.8 °C (114.4 °F) on January 18, while Hobart recorded 41.8 °C (107.2 °F) on January the 4th, beating its previous record by a whole degree and becoming the second hottest temperature ever recorded in the state of Tasmania. In addition to this, Canberra recorded its hottest January temperature of 42.0 °C (107.6 °F), while Adelaide reached 45.0 °C (113.0 °F), its second hottest temperature on record after the 45.7 °C (114.3 °F) of January 2009. The hottest temperature recorded during the course of the heatwave was 49.6 °C (121.3 °F) at Moomba in South Australia.
Other all-time records broken in January 2013 included:
- 47.1 °C (116.8 °F), Meekatharra, Western Australia
- 49.0 °C (120.2 °F), Leonora, Western Australia
- 48.2 °C (118.8 °F), Eucla, Western Australia
- 48.8 °C (119.8 °F), Thargomindah, Queensland
- 47.6 °C (117.7 °F), Windorah, Queensland
- 48.1 °C (118.6 °F), Brewarrina, New South Wales
- 48.5 °C (119.3 °F), Walgett, New South Wales
- 40.9 °C (105.6 °F), Murrurundi, New South Wales
- 42.5 °C (108.5 °F), Newcastle, New South Wales
- 36.0 °C (96.8 °F), Oberon, New South Wales
- 45.4 °C (113.7 °F), Nowra, New South Wales
- 47.7 °C (117.9 °F), Hay, New South Wales
- 40.9 °C (105.6 °F), Grove, Tasmania
- 40.3 °C (104.5 °F), Plenty, Tasmania
A monsoon low in late January ended the heatwave in Queensland and northern New South Wales, however abnormally hot weather continued into March 2013 in southern parts of Australia. A prolonged heatwave affected Melbourne which was exacerbated by power blackouts. Record maximum temperatures for that month were experienced in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. Parts of South Australia equaled or nearly broke temperature records in the first two weeks of March. Tasmania recorded its hottest March ever. The mean temperature across the state was 2.2 °C above normal.
A series of severe bushfires in south-eastern Tasmania in early January 2013 burnt 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) and destroyed at least 170 buildings. Bushfires also affected parts of Victoria and southern New South Wales.
Heatwave conditions in Queensland and northern New South Wales were abruptly ended in late January 2013 with severe flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Oswald and an associated monsoon trough. Extremely heavy rainfall continued into February as tropical low pressure systems caused havoc in eastern Queensland. Seven-day rainfall totals over 1,000 mm (39.4 in) were recorded in some areas of south-eastern Queensland.
Link to climate change
The heatwave was a major news event and the Australian media wrote over 800 articles about the heat-wave, however only 10% of these mentioned a potential link to climate change. However a report by Australia's Climate Commission entitled Angry Summer argues that climate change can be directly linked to the severity of the heatwave. A paper in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate reported that heatwaves have occurred with increasing frequency over the previous 60 years. Research conducted by the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science attributed the record temperatures to anthropogenic influences.
- Jessica Aldred (7 March 2013). Australia links 'angry summer' to climate change – at last. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- 9 March 2013. Australia's 'angry' summer continues. stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Ben Knight (8 January 2013). "Heat wave creates new Australian records". 7:30. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Peter Hannam (8 January 2013). "Temperatures off the charts as Australia turns deep purple". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Graham Lloyd (27 June 2013). "Summer roasting 'man-made'". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- "Temperature hits all-time record in Sydney". Phys.org. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "Key Facts of the Angry Summer" (PDF). Climate Commission. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Andrew Carswell (8 January 2013). "The first day in a summer of misery". The Daily Telegraph. News Limited. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "Queensland swelters in marathon heatwave". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Lou Fancher (23 April 2013). "Berkeley climate change panel paints grim picture". West County Times. Bay Area News Group. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "Special Climate Satement 43- extreme heat in January 2013" (PDF). BOM Special Climate Statements. Bureau of Meteorology. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- "Records tumble as Melburnians endure long hot spell". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Peter Hannam (27 March 2013). "Records tumble in summer's final blast". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "Near record-breaking heatwave to ease". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Lauren Cameron (3 April 2013). "March the hottest on record". The Advocate. Fairfax Regional Media. Retrieved 25 April 2013.