Heat waves are the deadliest natural hazard in Australia. Motivated by the projection that the number of extremely hot days in subtropical Australia will increase in a warmer climate, this study aims to develop a comprehensive physical picture of the processes leading to the extreme temperatures.

The approach taken is to compare heat waves dominated by land surface‐atmosphere interactions to those that are due to atmospheric dynamical processes using the Brisbane region as a specific example. The key finding is that unlike heat waves in other parts of the world, heat waves are not necessarily associated with a high pressure system but with a low pressure system off the southeastern corner of Australia. Hence, it seems likely that when considering how heat waves might change in the future, not only is the location and intensity of subtropical high pressure systems important, but also the location, intensity and variability of the midlatitude storm tracks.

 

Quinting, J.F., Parker, T.J., Reeder, M.J (2018) Two Synoptic Routes to Subtropical Heat Waves as Illustrated in the Brisbane Region of Australia. Geophysical Research Letters 0. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL079261