Climate Dynamics

, Volume 43, Issue 7–8, pp 1915–1937 | Cite as

Intra-seasonal drivers of extreme heat over Australia in observations and POAMA-2

  • A. G. Marshall
  • D. Hudson
  • M. C. Wheeler
  • O. Alves
  • H. H. Hendon
  • M. J. Pook
  • J. S. Risbey


We assess the occurrence and probability of extreme heat over Australia in association with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), persistent anticyclones over the Tasman Sea, and the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO), which have previously been shown to be key drivers of intra-seasonal variations of Australian climate. In this study, extreme heat events are defined as occurring when weekly-mean maximum temperature anomalies exceed the 90th percentile. The observed probability of exceedance is reduced during the positive phase of the SAM and enhanced during the negative phase of the SAM over most of Australia. Persistent anticyclones over the Tasman Sea are described in terms of (1) split-flow blocking at 160°E and (2) high pressure systems located in the vicinity of the subtropical ridge (STRHs), about 10° north of the split-flow blocking region, for which we devise a simple index. Split-flow blocks and STRHs have contrasting impacts on the occurrence of extreme heat over Australia, with STRHs showing enhanced probability of upper decile heat events over southern Australia in all seasons. The observed probability of an upper decile heat event varies according to MJO phase and time of year, with the greatest impact of the MJO on extreme heat occurring over southern Australia (including the Mallee agricultural region) in spring during phases 2–3. We show that this modulation of the probability of extreme heat by the SAM, persistent anticyclones over the Tasman Sea, and the MJO is well simulated in the Bureau of Meteorology dynamical intra-seasonal/seasonal forecast model POAMA-2 at lead times of 2–3 weeks. We further show that predictability of heat extremes increases in association with the negative SAM phase, STRH and MJO, thus providing a basis for skilful intra-seasonal prediction of heat extremes.


Southern Annular Mode Extreme Heat Extreme Heat Event Southern Annular Mode Index Intraseasonal Timescale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the Managing Climate Variability Program of Grains Research and Development Corporation. We extend our thanks to Peter McIntosh and the two anonymous reviewers for generously giving their time to help improve the overall quality of this paper.


  1. Alexander LV, Arblaster JM (2009) Assessing trends in observed and modelled climate extremes over Australia in relation to future projections. Int J Climatol 29:417–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander LV, Hope P, Collins D, Trewin B, Lynch A, Nicholls N (2007) Trends in Australia’s climate means and extremes: a global context. Aust Met Mag 56:1–18Google Scholar
  3. Alexander LV, Uotila P, Nicholls N (2009) Influence of sea surface temperature variability on global temperature and precipitation extremes. J Geophys Res 114:D18116. doi: 10.1029/2009JD012301 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alves O, Wang G, Zhong A, Smith N, Tzeitkin F, Warren G, Schiller A, Godfrey S, Meyers G (2003) POAMA: bureau of meteorology operational coupled model forecast system. In: Proceedings of national drought forum, Brisbane, April 2003, pp 49-56. Available from DPI Publications, Department of Primary Industries, GPO Box 46, Brisbane, Qld 4001, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  5. Arblaster JM, Alexander LV (2012) The impact of the El Niño-southern oscillation on maximum temperature extremes. Geophys Res Lett 39:L20702. doi: 10.1029/2012GL053409 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barnston AG, Mason SJ (2011) Evaluation of IRI’s seasonal climate forecasts for the extreme 15 % tails. Weather Forecast 26:545–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barriopedro D, Fischer EM, Luterbacher J, Trigo RM, García-Herrera R (2011) The hot summer of 2010: redrawing the temperature record map of Europe. Science 332:220–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Becker EJ, van den Dool H, Peña M (2013) Short-term climate extremes: prediction skill and predictability. J Clim 26:512–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Black E, Blackburn M, Harrison G, Hoskins B, Methven J (2004) Factors contributing to the summer 2003 European heatwave. Weather 59:217–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Casati B, Wilson LJ, Stephenson DB, Nurmi P, Ghelli A, Pocernich M, Damrath U, Ebert EE, Brown BG, Mason S (2008) Forecast verification: current status and future directions. Meteorol Appl 15:3–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Charney JG, DeVore JG (1979) Multiple flow equilibria in the atmosphere and blocking. J Atmos Sci 36:1205–1216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coates L (1996) An overview of fatalities from some natural hazards in Australia. In Proceedings of NDR96 conference on natural disaster reduction. Gold Coast AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  13. Collins DA, Della-Marta PM, Plummer N, Trewin BC (2000) Trends in annual frequencies of extreme temperature events in Australia. Aust Met Mag 49:277–292Google Scholar
  14. Colman R, Deschamps L, Naughton M, Rikus L, Sulaiman A, Puri K, Roff G, Sun Z, Embury G (2005) BMRC atmospheric model (BAM) version3.0: comparison with mean climatology. BMRC research report no. 108, Bur Met, Melbourne, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  15. Coughlan M (1983) A comparative climatology of blocking action in the two hemispheres. Aust Met Mag 31:3–13Google Scholar
  16. Coumou D, Rahmstorf S (2012) A decade of weather extremes. Nat Clim Change 2:491–496Google Scholar
  17. De Bono A, Giuliani G, Kluser S, Peduzzi P (2004) Impacts of summer 2003 heat wave in Europe. UNEP/DEWA/GRID Eur Environ Alert Bull 2:1–4Google Scholar
  18. Ferro CAT, Stephenson DB (2011) Extremal dependence indices: improved verification measures for deterministic forecasts of rare binary events. Weather Forecast 26:699–713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fischer EM, Seneviratne SI, Luthi D, Schär C (2007) Contribution of land-atmosphere coupling to recent European summer heat waves. Geophys Res Lett 34:L06707. doi: 10.1029/2006GL029068 Google Scholar
  20. Fouillet A, Rey G, Laurent F, Pavillon G, Bellec S, Guihenneuc-Jouyaux C, Clavel J, Jougla E, He′mon D (2006) Excess mortality related to the August 2003 heat wave in France. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 80:16–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frederiksen CS, Zheng X (2007) Variability of seasonal-mean fields arising from intraseasonal variability. Part 3: application to SH winter and summer circulations. Clim Dyn 28:849–866CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilbert N (2010) Russia counts environmental cost of wildfires. Nat News 12 Aug. doi: 10.1038/news.2010.404
  23. Grainger S, Frederiksen CS, Zheng X (2013) Modes of interannual variability of Southern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation in CMIP3 models: assessment and projections. Clim Dyn 41:479–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Griffiths GM, Chambers LE, Haylock MR, Manton MJ, Nicholls N, Baek H-J, Choi Y, Della-Marta PM, Gosai A, Iga N, Lata R, Laurent V, Maitrepierre L, Nakamigawa H, Ouprasitwong N, Solofa D, Tahani L, Thuy DT, Tibig L, Trewin B, Vediapan K, Zhai P (2005) Change in mean temperature as a predictor of extreme temperature change in the Asia-Pacific region. Int J Climatol 25:1301–1330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hamilton E, Eade R, Graham RJ, Scaife AA, Smith DM, Maidens A, MacLachlan C (2012) Forecasting the number of extreme daily events on seasonal timescales. J Geophys Res 117:D03114. doi: 10.1029/2011JD016541 Google Scholar
  26. Hendon HH, Thompson DWJ, Wheeler MC (2007) Australian rainfall and surface temperature variations associated with the southern hemisphere annular mode. J Clim 20:2452–2467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hendon HH, Lim E-P, Liu G (2012) The role of air-sea interaction for prediction of Australian summer monsoon rainfall. J Clim 25:1278–1290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hendon HH, Lim E-P, Arblaster JM, Anderson DLT (2013) Causes and predictability of the record wet east Australian spring 2010. Clim Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-013-1700-5 Google Scholar
  29. Hogan RJ, Mason IB (2012) Deterministic forecasts of binary events. In Jolliffe IT, Stephenson DB (eds) Forecast verification: a practitioner’s guide in atmospheric science, 2nd edn. Wiley doi: 10.1002/9781119960003.ch3
  30. Hudson D, Marshall AG, Alves O (2011a) Intraseasonal forecasting of the 2009 summer and winter Australian heat waves using POAMA. Weather Forecast 26:257–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hudson D, Alves O, Hendon HH, Wang G (2011b) The impact of atmospheric initialisation on seasonal prediction of tropical Pacific SST. Clim Dyn 36:1155–1171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hudson D, Marshall A, Yin Y, Alves O, Hendon H (2013) Improving intraseasonal prediction with a new ensemble generation strategy. Mon Weather Rev. doi: 10.1175/MWR-D-13-00059.1 Google Scholar
  33. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Contribution of working group i to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, 996 ppGoogle Scholar
  34. Jones PA (1991) Historical records of cloud cover and climate for Australia. Aust Meteor Mag 39:181–189Google Scholar
  35. Jones DA, Trewin BC (2000) On the relationships between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and Australian land surface temperature. Int J Climatol 20:697–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jones DA, Wang W, Fawcett R (2009) High-quality spatial climate data-sets for Australia. Aust Meteorol Oceanogr J 58:233–248Google Scholar
  37. Kalnay E, Kanamitsu M, Kistler R, Collins W, Deaven D, Gandin L, Iredell M, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Zhu Y, Leetmaa A, Reynolds B, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Higgins W, Janowiak J, Mo KC, Ropelewski C, Wang J, Jenne R, Joseph D (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:437–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Karl TR, Knight RW (1997) The 1995 Chicago heatwave: how likely is a recurrence? Bull Amer Meteor Soc 78:1107–1119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Karoly DJ (2009) The recent bushfires and extreme heatwave in southeast Australia. Bull Aust Meteor Oceanogr Soc 22:10–13Google Scholar
  40. Kenyon J, Hegerl GC (2008) Influence of modes of climate variability on global temperature extremes. J Clim 21:3872–3889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kharin VV, Zwiers FW, Zhang XB, Hegerl GC (2007) Changes in temperature and precipitation extremes in the IPCC ensemble of global coupled model simulations. J Clim 20:1419–1444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kysely J (2009) Recent severe heat waves in central Europe: how to view them in a long-term prospect? Int J Clim 30:89–109. doi: 10.1002/joc.1874 Google Scholar
  43. Lim E-P, Hendon HH, Rashid H (2013) Seasonal predictability of the Southern Annular Mode due to its association with ENSO. J Clim 26:8037–8054CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Madden RA, Julian PR (1971) Detection of a 40–50 day oscillation in the zonal wind in the tropical Pacific. J Atmos Sci 28:702–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Madden RA, Julian PR (1972) Description of global-scale circulation cells in the tropics with a 40–50 day period. J Atmos Sci 29:1109–1123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Manabe S, Holloway JL (1975) The seasonal variation of the hydrological cycle as simulated by a global model of the atmosphere. J Geophys Res 80:1617–1649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marshall AG, Hudson D, Wheeler MC, Hendon HH, Alves O (2012a) Simulation and prediction of the Southern Annular Mode and its influence on Australian intra-seasonal climate in POAMA. Clim Dyn 38:2483–2502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Marshall AG, Hudson D, Wheeler MC, Hendon HH, Alves O (2012b) Evaluating key drivers of Australian intra-seasonal climate variability in POAMA-2: a progress report. CAWCR Res Lett 7:10–16Google Scholar
  49. Marshall AG, Hudson D, Hendon HH, Pook MJ, Alves O, Wheeler MC (2013) Simulation and prediction of blocking in the Australian region and its influence on intra-seasonal rainfall in POAMA-2. Clim Dyn. doi: 10.1007/s00382-013-1974-7 Google Scholar
  50. Matsueda M (2011) Predictability of Euro-Russian blocking in summer of 2010. Geophys Res Lett 38:L06801. doi: 10.1029/2010GL046557 Google Scholar
  51. Min S-K, Cai W, Whetton P (2013) Influence of climate variability on seasonal extremes over Australia. J Geophys Res Atmos 118:643–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nairn J, Fawcett R (2013) Defining heatwaves: heatwave defined as a heat-impact event servicing all community and business sectors in Australia. CAWCR Tech Rep No 60, 96 ppGoogle Scholar
  53. Nicholls N, Drosdowsky W, Lavery B (1997) Australian rainfall variability and change. Weather 52:66–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Nordeng T-E (1994) Extended versions of the convective parameterization scheme at ECMWF and their impact upon the mean climate and transient activity of the model in the tropics. Research Dept Technical Memorandum No. 206, ECMWF, Shinfield Park Reading RG2 9AX, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  55. Oke PR, Schiller A, Griffin DA, Brassington GB (2005) Ensemble data assimilation for an eddy-resolving ocean model of the Australian region. Q J R Meteorol Soc 131:3301–3311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Perkins SE, Alexander LV (2013) On the measurement of heat waves. J Clim 26:4500–4517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Perkins SE, Alexander LV, Nairn JR (2012) Increasing frequency, intensity and duration of observed heatwaves and warm spells. Geophys Res Lett 39:L20714. doi: 10.1029/2012GL053361 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pezza AB, van Rensch P, Cai W (2012) Severe heat waves in Southern Australia: synoptic climatology and large scale connections. Clim Dyn 38:209–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Plummer N, Salinger MJ, Nicholls N, Suppiah R, Hennessy KJ, Leighton RM, Trewin B, Page CM, Lough JM (1999) Changes in climate extremes over the Australian region and New Zealand during the twentieth century. Clim Change 42:183–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Pook MJ, Gibson T (1999) Atmospheric blocking and storm tracks during SOP-1 of the FROST Project. Aust Meteor Mag 48:51–60Google Scholar
  61. Power S, Tseitkin F, Torok SJ, Lavery B, Dahni R, McAvaney B (1998) Australian temperature, Australian rainfall and the Southern Oscillation, 1910–1992: coherent variability and recent changes’. Aust Meteor Mag 47:85–101Google Scholar
  62. Rahmstorf S, Coumou D (2011) Increase of extreme events in a warming world. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:17905–17909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Risbey JS, Pook MJ, McIntosh PC, Wheeler MC, Hendon HH (2009) On the remote drivers of rainfall variability in Australia. Mon Weather Rev 137:3233–3253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schiller A., Godfrey JS, McIntosh P, Meyers G (1997) A global ocean general circulation model climate variability studies. CSIRO Marine research report no 227Google Scholar
  65. Schiller A, Godfrey JS, McIntosh PC, Meyers G, Smith NR, Alves O, Wang G, Fiedler R (2002) A new version of the australian community ocean model for seasonal climate prediction. CSIRO marine research report no. 240Google Scholar
  66. Spiegel MR (1961) Schaum’s outline of theory and problems of statistics. Schaum Publishing Company, New York, 359 ppGoogle Scholar
  67. Stockdale TN (1997) Coupled ocean–atmosphere forecasts in the presence of climate drift. Mon Weather Rev 125:809–818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tiedke M (1989) A comprehensive mass flux scheme for cumulus parameterisation in large-scale models. Mon Weather Rev 117:1779–1800CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Trigo R, Garia-Herrera R, Diaz J, Trigo I, Valente M (2005) How exceptional was the early August 2003 heatwave in France? Geophys Res Lett 32:1071–1074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Uppala SM et al (2005) The ERA-40 re-analysis. Q J R Meteorol Soc 131:2961–3012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Valcke S, Terray L, Piacentini A (2000) OASIS 2.4 Ocean Atmospheric Sea Ice Soil user’s guide, Version 2.4. CERFACS technical report, CERFACS TR/CMGC/00-10, 85 ppGoogle Scholar
  72. Wang G, Alves O, Smith N (2005) BAM3.0 tropical surface flux simulation and its impact on SST drift in a coupled model. BMRC Research Report No. 107, Bur Met AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  73. Wang Y, Kowalczyk E, Law R, Abramowitz G (2006) The CSIRO Atmosphere Biosphere Land Exchange Model and future development for ACCESS. BMRC Research Report No. 123, Bur Met AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  74. Wheeler MC, Hendon HH (2004) An all-season real-time multivariate MJO index: development of an index for monitoring and prediction. Mon Weather Rev 132:1917–1932CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wheeler MC, Hendon HH, Cleland S, Meinke H, Donald A (2009) Impacts of the Madden–Julian oscillation on Australian rainfall and circulation. J Clim 22:1482–1498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Yin Y, Alves O, Oke PR (2011) An ensemble ocean data assimilation system for seasonal prediction. Mon Weather Rev 139:786–808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zhong A, Alves O, Hendon H, Rikus L (2006) On aspects of the mean climatology and tropical interannual variability in the BMRC atmospheric model (BAM 3.0). BMRC research report no. 121, Bur Met, Melbourne, AustraliaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. Marshall
    • 1
  • D. Hudson
    • 1
  • M. C. Wheeler
    • 1
  • O. Alves
    • 1
  • H. H. Hendon
    • 1
  • M. J. Pook
    • 1
  • J. S. Risbey
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Australian Weather and Climate ResearchHobart/MelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations