Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 19–32

Synoptic comparison of cold events in winter and summerin Melbourne and Perth

  • I. Simmonds
  • T. Richter

DOI: 10.1007/s007040070013

Cite this article as:
Simmonds, I. & Richter, T. Theor Appl Climatol (2000) 67: 19. doi:10.1007/s007040070013


 Unseasonably cold weather episodes have the potential to cause dislocation to many aspects of society, regardless of the season in which they occur. In this work we devise a method for quantitatively identifying extreme cold events in such a way that it is not biased to the winter season (as is usual in most other studies). We have applied this method to the daily maximum temperatures (over the period January 1972 to June 1991) in the southern Australian cities of Melbourne and Perth. We identify 10 cold events in winter and summer for the cities.

Analyses were performed to determine the synoptic environment in which these events occurred. The most common synoptic type in these samples was the ‘classic’, which is characterised by, amongst other factors, the passage of a cold front over the city on the day of the outbreak, and the transport of air from subantarctic latitudes. Melbourne recorded five such events in summer and six in winter, while seven and eight occurred in the two seasons for Perth. The circulation features and characteristics of other synoptic types identified with these episodes is also examined.

The mean synoptic anomalies which are coincident with these cold events are analysed. For both cities and seasons there is a ‘high-low’ anomalous dipole in the regional MSLP pattern, with the high located in the ‘upstream’ quadrant from the anomalous cyclone. Having said this, the relative importance of the two features of the dipole in being associated with the cold event strongly depended on the city and season under consideration. The research shows that the regional structures associated with cold events in Melbourne and Perth bear some similarity, but also display a number of significant differences. These differences are associated partly with the different climatological and synoptic settings in which these cities find themselves, and the nature of their seasonality.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Simmonds
    • 1
  • T. Richter
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, AustraliaAU