Australian heatwave set to hit 52 degrees
The temperature forecast for next Monday by Australia’s bureau of meteorology is so unprecedented – above 52 degrees – that it has had to add a new colour, purple, to its heat maps.
Australia’s highest recorded temperature is 50.7 degrees, set in January 1960 in South Australia. The record for the hottest average day across the nation was set on Monday, at 40.3 degrees, exceeding a 40-year-old record.
“What makes this event quite exceptional is how widespread and intense it’s been,” said Aaron Coutts-Smith of the the weather bureau.
Australia’s prime minister Julia Gillard said: “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 climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events and conditions.”
Separately scientists are saying humans would have to shrink to the size of hobbits if they are to survive if average temperatures were to rise by the worst-case scenario ofsix degrees. The scientists, all involved in the international Bighorn Basin Coring Project, have drawn this startling conclusion after studying what happened the last time the planet’s temperature rose rapidly by six degrees.
The 30 scientists have been looking at the vast fossil deposits in rock strata in the US state of Wyoming, charting the period 55 million years ago when Earth’s temperature shot up.
Dwarfism was the successful strategy to avoid starvation for a large range of species including horses, many insects and even earthworms – because of the heat and the fact that plants became less nutritious.
With food supply reduced, as reported by the newly launched Climate News Network, “evolutionary forces suggest hobbit-sized humans who needed to eat less would have the greatest chance of survival”. – (Additional reporting: Guardian service)