South Australia sizzles through hottest February day on record – Scientists project global warming will make summer deaths more commonPosted by Jim at Sunday, February 02, 2014
By Jackson Gothe-Snape
3 February 2014
(The Advertiser) – Australia's stifling heatwaves are threatening to make summer Australia's deadliest season, experts have warned, as Adelaide sweltered through its hottest February day on record Sunday.
Sixty-six people affected by heat stress have presented to South Australian hospitals since Thursday and ten have been admitted for treatment during a stifling run of 40C-plus maximums, including Sunday's 44.7C at 2.30pm. The previous February record in Adelaide was 44.3C on 14 February 2004.
So intense was the heat blast that Mount Gambier, in the traditionally cooler South East, recorded it highest temperature of 44.9C.
The sweltering start to the month follows the hottest January in 13 years - the fourth-hottest on record - when bushfires raged across the state and more than 300 people presented at hospitals with heat-related illness.
Winter has been the most common season for deaths for more than 100 years, but scientists have projected that temperature increases will make summer deaths more common within the next few decades.
"There used to be about a 30 per cent difference in the proportion of people that died in summer compared to winter. Over the 40 years we studied, it's halved," said Dr Charmian Bennett, a researcher from the Australian National University.
"If the trend continues, there will be equal numbers of summer and winter deaths in around mid-century," she said. [more]