Asked by [ABC TV Question and Answer show presenter Tony] Jones if he believed the drought was linked to human-induced climate change, [high-school graduate, National Party MP and Federal Agriculture Minister David] Littleproud said: “Look, that’s a big call.”
“I don’t give a rats if it’s man-made or not,” he added, saying that people were already under financial pressure and could not afford higher power bills. (source)
This was the news about the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave last Thursday:
Temperature, without wind chill factor, in the Midwest fell below -31.7ºC, the same recorded at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. In northern Illinois, including wind chill factor, air felt like -49.4ºC. (source)
This was the news about the Great Southern Land today:
- South Australia experienced its driest January since 2013. Adelaide, its capital, received 0 (yes, that’s no typo: zero, nada, nichts, rien) mm rainfall.
- Western Australia was hot but over there it did rain.
- January was hottest ever month for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the ACT.
- It was also of one of the driest Januarys in north-eastern NSW. Rainfall for most of VIC was below 20% average.
- Driest ever for Tasmania.
Rainfall for the last seven
days to 9am Friday:
Upper Bluewater 1230mm
Upper Black River 1034
Upper Major Creek 877
Townsville airport 706
near Proserpine had
the highest of 1268mm
So, what exactly is an “extreme weather event”?
The term extreme weather event refers to “an occurrence of a value of a weather or climate variable beyond a threshold that lies near the end of the range of observations for the variable” (IPCC 2012, p. 5). It is a weather event which is unusually intense or long, occasionally beyond what has been experienced before. Examples include very high (and low) temperatures, very heavy rainfall (and snowfall in cold climates), and very high wind speeds. By definition, extreme events occur only rarely; they are noticeable because they are so different from usual weather patterns; and they are often associated with adverse impacts on humans, infrastructure and ecosystems. (source)The general idea -- in more ordinary terms -- is captured by the word “record”. Does it help to make sense of what one sees in the news?