Australian maximum temperatures have reached record values in recent austral springs and are projected to increase further in a warming world. We focus on three record spring heat events in September 2013, October–November 2014 and October 2015, and examine the anomalous atmospheric circulation associated with these events in reanalysis and a sub-seasonal to seasonal prediction system, POAMA, to identify factors contributing to extreme heat over Australia. We find that an anomalous equivalent barotropic cyclonic circulation southwest of Australia and a quasi-stationary wave train formed by an upper-troposphere anticyclonic circulation over southern Australia and barotropic cyclone southeast of Australia are important features in these heat events, though the wave train was only observed in the latter two events. This wave train appears to be linked to the tropics, and particularly the tropical Indian Ocean, suggesting that teleconnections to the tropical Indian Ocean can be important for monthly spring extreme heat formation in Australia. However, the forecast relationship with the tropical Pacific Ocean was over-represented at the cost of the relationship between the Indian Ocean and upper-troposphere anomaly, limiting the ability of POAMA to forecast the full extent of the month- or 2 month-long heat extremes at zero lead time. This means that the model might underestimate the magnitude of future extreme heat events in spring, a factor that should be assessed in the next generation of seasonal forecast models.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Alexander LV, Arblaster JM (2017) Historical and projected trends in temperature and precipitation extremes in Australia in observations and CMIP5. Weather Clim Extremes 15(March):34–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wace.2017.02.001
Arblaster JM, Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Trewin B, Wheeler M, Liu G, Braganza K (2014) Understanding Australia’s hottest September on record. In: Explaining Extremes of 2013 from a Climate Perspective. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 95(9):S37–S41
Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2013) ‘Special Climate Statement 46—Australia’s Warmest September on Record’. Special Climate Statement, no. October
Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2014) ‘Special Climate Statement 50—Australia’s Warmest Spring on Record’, no. December
Australian Bureau of Meteorology (2016) ‘Australia’ s Warmest Autumn on Record. Special Climate Statement 52.’ 52 (December): 25.
Black MT, Karoly DJ (2017) Southern Australia’s warmest October on record: the role of enso and climate change [in “Explaining Extremes of 2015 from a Climate Perspective”]. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 98(12):S1–S157. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0118.1
Boschat G, Pezza A, Simmonds I, Perkins S, Cowan T, Purich A (2015) Large scale and sub-regional connections in the lead up to summer heat wave and extreme rainfall events in Eastern Australia. Clim Dyn 44(7–8):1823–1840
Branstator G (2014) Long-lived response of the midlatitude circulation and storm tracks to pulses of tropical heating. J Clim 27(23):8809–8826. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00312.1
Byrne NJ, Shepherd TG (2018) Seasonal persistence of circulation anomalies in the Southern Hemisphere stratosphere and its implications for the troposphere. J Clim 31:3467–3483. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0557.1
Cai W, van Rensch P, Cowan T, Hendon HH (2011a) Teleconnection pathways of ENSO and the IOD and the mechanisms for impacts on Australian rainfall. J Clim 24(15):3910–3923. https://doi.org/10.1175/2011JCLI4129.1
Cai W, van Rensch P, Cowan T (2011b) Influence of global-scale variability on the subtropical ridge over Southeast Australia. J Clim 24(23):6035–6053. https://doi.org/10.1175/2011JCLI4149.1
Collins M, Knutti R, Arblaster JM, Dufresne JL, Fichefet T, Friedlingstein P, Gao X, et al (2013) Long-term climate change: projections, commitments and irreversibility. Climate change 2013—the physical science basis: contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, pp 1029–1136
Cottrill A, Hendon HH, Lim E-P et al (2013) Seasonal forecasting in the pacific using the coupled model POAMA-2. Weather Forecast 28:668–680. https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-12-00072.1
Cullen BR, Johnson IR, Eckard RJ, Lodge GM, Walker RG, Rawnsley RP, McCaskill MR (2009) Climate change effects on pasture systems in South-Eastern Australia. Crop Pasture Sci 60(10):933. https://doi.org/10.1071/CP09019
Dee DP, Uppala SM, Simmons AJ, Berrisford P, Poli P, Kobayashi S, Andrae U et al (2011) The ERA-interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137(656):553–597. https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.828
Dowdy AJ (2018) Climatological variability of fire weather in Australia. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 57(2):221–234. https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-17-0167.1
Fawcett RJB, Trewin BC, Braganza K, Smalley RJ, Jovanovic B, Jones DA (2012) On the sensitivity of Australian temperature trends and variability to analysis methods and observation networks. CAWCR Technical Report No 050
Gallant AJE, Lewis SC (2016) Stochastic and anthropogenic influences on repeated record-breaking temperature extremes in Australian Spring of 2013 and 2014: causes of repeated temperature records. Geophys Res Lett 43(5):2182–2191. https://doi.org/10.1002/2016GL067740
Hendon HH, Thompson D, Wheeler MC (2007) Australian rainfall and surface temperature variations associated with the Southern hemisphere annular mode. J Clim 20(11):2452–2467. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI4134.1
Hope P, Timbal B, Fawcett R (2009) Associations between rainfall variability in the southwest and southeast of Australia and their evolution through time. Int J Climatol. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.1964
Hope P, Lim E-P, Wang G, Hendon HH, Arblaster JM (2015) Contributors to the record high temperatures across Australia in late spring 2014. In: Explaining Extremes of 2014 from a Climate Perspective. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 96(12):S149–S153
Hope P, Wang G, Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Arblaster JM (2016) What caused the record-breaking heat across Australia in October 2015? [in “Explaining Extreme Events of 2015 from a Climate Perspective”]. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 96(12 (suppl)):S1–S172. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00157.1
Hoskins BJ, Ambrizzi T (1993) Rossby wave propagation on a realistic longitudinally varying flow. J Atmos Sci 50:1661–1671
Hoskins BJ, Karoly DJ (1981) The steady linear response of a spherical atmosphere to thermal and orographic forcing. J Atmos Sci. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0469(1981)038%3c1179:TSLROA%3e2.0.CO;2
Hudson D, Alves O, Hendon HH, Marshall AG (2011) Bridging the gap between weather and seasonal forecasting: intraseasonal forecasting for Australia. Q J R Meteorol Soc 137(656):673–689. https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.769
Hudson D, Marshall AG, Yin Y, Alves O, Hendon HH (2013) Improving intraseasonal prediction with a new ensemble generation strategy. Mon Weather Rev 141(12):4429–4449. https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-13-00059.1
Hudson D, Alves O, Hendon HH, Lim E-P, Liu G, Luo J-J, MacLachlan C, Marshall AG, Shi L, Wang G, Wedd R, Young G, Zhao M, Zhou X (2017) ACCESS-S1 the new bureau of meteorology multi-week to seasonal prediction system. J South Hemisphere Earth Syst Sci 67(3):132–159
Jarvis C, Darbyshire R, Goodwin I, Barlow EWR, Eckard R (2019) Advancement of Winegrape Maturity Continuing for winegrowing regions in Australia with variable evidence of compression of the harvest period: advancement of Winegrape Maturity. Aust J Grape Wine Res 25(1):101–108. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajgw.12373
Jones D, Trewin B (2000) On the relationships between the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and Australian land surface temperature. Int J Climatol 20:697–719
Jones D, Wang W, Fawcett R (2009) High-quality spatial climate data-sets for Australia. Aust Meteorol Oceanogr J 58(4):233–248. https://doi.org/10.22499/2.5804.003
Koch P, Wernli H, Davies HC (2006) An event-based jet-stream climatology and typology. Int J Climatol 26(3):283–301. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.1255
L’Heureux ML, Thompson DWJ (2006) Observed relationships between the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and the extratropical zonal-mean circulation. J Clim 19:276–287. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI3617.1
Li X, Holland DM, Gerber EP, Yoo C (2015a) Rossby waves mediate impacts of tropical oceans on West Antarctic atmospheric circulation in Austral winter. J Clim 28(20):8151–8164. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0113.1
Li G, Xie S-P, Du Y (2015b) Monsoon-induced biases of climate models over the tropical Indian ocean. J Clim 28(8):3058–3072. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00740.1
Liebmann B, Smith CA (1996) Description of a complete (interpolated) outgoing longwave radiation dataset. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:1275–1277
Lim E-P, Hendon HH (2017) Causes and predictability of the Negative Indian Ocean dipole and its impact on La Niña during 2016. Sci Rep 9:11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12674-z
Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Alves O, Yin Y, Zhao M, Wang G, Hudson D, Liu G (2009) Impact of SST bias correction on prediction of ENSO and Australian winter rainfall CAWCR Research Letters Issue 3, pp 22–29. https://www.cawcr.gov.au/
Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Langford S, Alves O (2012) Improvements in POAMA2 for the prediction of major climate drivers and south eastern Australian rainfall. CAWCR Tech Rep No 51
Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Rashid H (2013) Seasonal predictability of the Southern Annular Mode due to its association with ENSO. J Clim 26:8037–8054. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00006.1
Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Hudson D, Zhao M, Shi L, Alves O, Young G (2016a) Evaluation of the ACCESS-S1 hindcasts for prediction of Victorian seasonal rainfall. Bureau Research Report No. 19, Bureau of Meteorology Australia. http://www.bom.gov.au/research/research-reports.shtml
Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Arblaster JM, Chung C, Moise A, Hope P, Young G, Zhao M (2016b) Interaction of the recent 50 year SST Trend and La Niña 2010: amplification of the Southern annular mode and Australian Springtime Rainfall. Clim Dyn 47(7–8):2273–2291. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-015-2963-9
Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Hope P, Chung C, Delage F, McPhaden MJ (2019) Continuation of tropical Pacific Ocean temperature trend may weaken extreme El Niño and its linkage to the Southern Annular Mode. Sci Rep. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53371-3
Loughran TF, Pitman AJ, Perkins-Kirkpatrick SE (2019) The El Niño–Southern Oscillation’s effect on summer heatwave development mechanisms in Australia. Clim Dyn 52(9–10):6279–6300. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4511-x
Marshall AG, Hudson D, Wheeler MC, Hendon HH, Alves O (2012) Simulation and prediction of the southern annular mode and its influence on Australian intra-seasonal climate in POAMA. Clim Dyn 38(11–12):2483–2502. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-011-1140-z
Marshall A, Hudson D, Wheeler M, Alves O, Hendon H, Pook M, Risbey J (2014) Intra-seasonal drivers of extreme heat over Australia in observations and POAMA-2. Clim Dyn 43(7–8):1915–1937. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-013-2016-1
McIntosh PC, Hendon HH (2017) Understanding Rossby wave trains forced by the Indian Ocean dipole. Clim Dyn. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-017-3771-1
Min S-K, Cai W, Whetton P (2013) Influence of climate variability on seasonal extremes over Australia: seasonal extremes over Australia. J Geophys Res Atmos 118(2):643–654. https://doi.org/10.1002/jgrd.50164
Nairn J, Fawcett R (2014) The excess heat factor: a metric for heatwave intensity and its use in classifying heatwave severity. Int J Environ Res Public Health 12(1):227–253. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120100227
Plumb RA (1985) On the three-dimensional propagation of stationary waves. J Atmos Sci. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0469(1985)042%3c0217:OTTDPO%3e2.0.CO;2
Pook MJ, Risbey JS, McIntosh PC, Ummenhofer CC, Marshall AG, Meyers GA (2013) The seasonal cycle of blocking and associated physical mechanisms in the Australian region and relationship with rainfall. Mon Weather Rev 141(12):4534–4553. https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-13-00040.1
Quinting JF, Reeder MJ (2017) Southeastern Australian heat waves from a trajectory viewpoint. Mon Weather Rev 145(10):4109–4125. https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-17-0165.1
Risbey JS, Pook MJ, McIntosh PC, Wheeler MC, Hendon HH (2009a) On the remote drivers of rainfall variability in Australia. Mon Weather Rev 137(10):3233–3253. https://doi.org/10.1175/2009MWR2861.1
Risbey JS, Pook MJ, McIntosh PC, Ummenhofer CC, Meyers G (2009b) Characteristics and variability of synoptic features associated with cool season rainfall in southeastern Australia. Int J Climatol 29(11):1595–1613. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.1775
Sardeshmukh PD, Hoskins BJ (1988) The generation of global rotational flow by steady idealized tropical divergence. J Atmos Sci 45(7):1228–1251. https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0469(1988)045%3c1228:TGOGRF%3e2.0.CO;2
Seviour WJM, Hardiman SC, Gray LJ et al (2014) Skillful seasonal prediction of the southern annular mode and Antarctic ozone. J Clim 27:7462–7474. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00264.1
Simpkins GR, McGregor S, Taschetto AS, Ciasto LM, England MH (2014) Tropical connections to climatic change in the extratropical southern hemisphere: the role of Atlantic SST trends. J Clim 27(13):4923–4936. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00615.1
Swart NC, Fyfe JC, Gillett N, Marshall GJ (2015) Comparing trends in the southern annular mode and surface westerly jet. J Clim 28(22):8840–8859. https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0334.1
Takaya K, Nakamura H (2000) A formulation of a wave-activity flux for stationary Rossby waves on a zonally varying basic flow. Geophys Res Lett 24(23):2985–2988. https://doi.org/10.1029/97GL03094
Taylor C, Cullen B, D’Occhio M, Rickards L, Eckard R (2018) Trends in wheat yields under representative climate futures: implications for climate adaptation. Agric Syst 164(July):1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2017.12.007
Timbal B, Hendon HH (2011) The role of tropical modes of variability in recent rainfall deficits across the murray-darling basin: tropical variability and rainfall deficit in the MDB. Water Resour Res. https://doi.org/10.1029/2010WR009834
Trewin B (2013) A daily homogenized temperature data set for Australia. Int J Climatol 33(6):1510–1529. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.3530
Ummenhofer CC, England MH, McIntosh PC, Meyers GA, Pook MJ, Risbey JS, Sen GA, Taschetto AS (2009) What causes southeast Australia’s worst droughts? Geophys Res Lett 36(4):L04706. https://doi.org/10.1029/2008GL036801
van Rensch P, Arblaster JM, Gallant AJE, Cai W, Nicholls N, Durack PJ (2019) Mechanisms causing East Australian spring rainfall differences between three strong El Niño Events. Clim Dyn 53(5–6):3641–3659. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-019-04732-1
Wang G, Hendon HH (2020) Impacts of the Madden-Julian Oscillation on Wintertime Australian minimum temperatures and Southern Hemisphere circulation. Clim Dyn (Accepted)
Wheeler MC, Hendon HH (2004) An all-season real-time multivariate MJO index: development of an index for monitoring and prediction. Mon Weather Rev 132:1917–1932
Wheeler MC, Hendon HH, Cleland S, Meinke H, Donald A (2009) Impacts of the Madden–Julian oscillation on Australian Rainfall and circulation. J Clim 22(6):1482–1498. https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JCLI2595.1
White CJ, Hudson D, Alves O (2014) ENSO, the IOD and the intraseasonal prediction of heat extremes across Australia using POAMA-2. Clim Dyn 43(7–8):1791–1810. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-013-2007-2
Zhao M, Hendon HH (2009) Representation and prediction of the Indian Ocean dipole in the POAMA seasonal forecast model. Q J R Meteorol Soc 135(639):337–352. https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.370
Zhou TJ, Yu RC (2004) Sea-surface temperature induced variability of the Southern annular mode in an atmospheric general circulation model. Geophys Res Lett 31:L24206. https://doi.org/10.1029/2004GL021473
This research was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes (CE170100023). R.C.M. was also supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship and a Bureau of Meteorology PhD Top-up scholarship. J.M.A. was partially supported by the Regional and Global Model Analysis component of the Earth and Environmental System Modeling Program of the US Department of Energy’s Office of Biological & Environmental Research via National Science Foundation IA 1947282, E.-P.L. was partially supported by the Forewarned is Forearmed project, which is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture. PH was supported by funding the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub of the Australian Government's National Environmental Science Program (NESP). We thank M. Wheeler and G. Boschat at the Bureau of Meteorology for their constructive feedback on the manuscript. We thank G. Wang and H. Hendon also at the Bureau of Meteorology for their assistance with writing code for analysis and their helpful insights into the data. This research was undertaken at the NCI National Facility in Canberra, Australia, which is supported by the Australian Commonwealth Government. The NCAR Command Language (NCL; http://www.ncl.ucar.edu) version 6.4.0 was used for data analysis and visualization of the results. The authors thank Dr. George Kiladis and one anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments that significantly improved the clarity of this paper.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
McKay, R.C., Arblaster, J.M., Hope, P. et al. Exploring atmospheric circulation leading to three anomalous Australian spring heat events. Clim Dyn (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-020-05580-0