Man-made climate change is likely to have played a role in the “angry” summer Aussies endured this year, researchers say.
These types of extreme summers will become even more frequent and severe, the study led by the University of Melbourne showed.
It concluded global warming increased the chances of more “angry” Australian summers by more than five times.
Study co-author David Karoly said the chance of Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide eventually experiencing 50C days is “quite high” due to ongoing climate change.
The study showed with more than 90 per cent confidence that human influences on the atmosphere dramatically increased the likelihood of the extreme 2013 summer.
“This extreme summer is not only remarkable for its record-breaking nature but also because it occurred at a time of weak La Nina to neutral conditions, which generally produces cooler summers,” Professor Karoly said.
Dubbed “Australia’s angry hot summer” by the Climate Commission, parts of WA, Queensland and the Northern Territory experienced their highest temperatures on record in 2013 and much of the country sweltered through temperatures very much above average, Professor Karoly said.
It was the hottest on observational record.
Lead study author Sophie Lewis said the angry summer had come at a time when cooler summers were most likely to occur.
“These types of extreme summers will become even more frequent and more severe in the future,” Dr Lewis said.
The next hottest summer on record occurred in 1998.
Dr Lewis said for the period of 2006 to 2020, modelling showed summers like 1998 would occur once every 16 years when only natural climate forces were at play.
However, when human influences such as greenhouse gases were introduced, they happened almost one every two years.