This is not normal: climate, records, and an uncertain future

Originally published on 20 December 2019

It’s 20 days into December, and one thing has become clear. This weather is not normal. November 2019 was the hottest on record for Brisbane, and December will almost certainly achieve the same feat.

The Bureau of Meteorology provides access to daily temperature data for each weather station across the country. Downloading the Brisbane data set, it is obvious that temperatures in 2019 are at the top of the mean maximum temperature range for almost every month.

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Brisbane mean maximum temperature (2000–2019)

With the ten hottest days of summer still to come, it seems the 2005 record temperatures will fall to the unprecedented records of 2019.

While it is important to not confuse climate with weather, these past four years have been consistently at the upper end of the maximum temperatures in almost every month.

These charts suggest Brisbane is on track for well over 1.5 degrees celsius of warming in the near term, if not in the next decade.

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Brisbane mean maximum temperatures (2000–2019), 2016–2019 highlighted

Should the first few months of 2020 shape up like 2019, we might start needing to use pencil rather than pen in those record books.

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