Hot in western Australia

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  • Hot in western Australia
    07.03.2011 13:46

     

    Perth in Western Australia has been breaking records for heat as its summer ends and autumn begins. Last Friday, March 4, the temperature topped 30 degrees Celsius for the 27th consecutive day, the longest hot spell in a record dating back to 1897. The previous record was 25 days in 1988.

    Moreover, between February 14 and March 2 the temperature did not fall below 20C, making 17 officially “warm” nights in a row.

    The maximum temperature fell below 30C during the weekend and on Monday and Tuesday but is due to rise above on Wednesday and Thursday and through the weekend.

    While in Perth people have been melting in the heat, at the other end of the world there was been startling melting of ice in 2010.

    Greenland had an exceptionally mild winter, and 2010 was a warm and rather dry year over all. This was illustrated by an unprecedented thaw of the Greenland ice cap.

    The melting began earlier in the year than usual and lasted longer into the autumn, due to the unusually high temperatures later in the year. All in all the annual thaw lasted an exceptional 50 days longer than average.

    Southern and western Greenland had their warmest calendar year on record, and melting here only ceased in mid September.

    The relative lack of snow exacerbated the melt. Fresh snow is more reflective than melting snow or the exposed ice underneath, so its absence meant that more energy was absorbed and the melt continued longer.

    As the winter ended and the sun reappeared for the first time in six months, residents of Ilulissat in the west were startled to see it peek above the horizon on January 11, two days earlier than usual.

    Clearly this was not due to any quirk in the earth’s orbit or tilt as some fevered speculation had it, or it would have been noticed everywhere – and the sun would have disappeared below Antarctica’s horizon 48 hours early.

    The explanation is that the lowering of the melted ice cap allowed the sun to appear so soon.

    By: Stephen Davenport