In early 2017, a series of record-breaking heatwaves affected southern Queensland, New South Wales(NSW) and parts of northern Victoria, during which Sydney and Brisbane recorded their highest mean monthly temperatures on record.

These record-breaking conditions raise questions concerning the physical mechanisms responsible for heat waves in NSW in general and how they differ from heat waves in Victoria, which has been the focus of much past work.

More specifically, the present study answers the questions: how different is the meteorology of heatwaves in NSW from those in Victoria, and how representative were the heatwaves of 2017 of previous heatwaves in NSW? The short answers are not much different and highly representative.

The researchers found heatwaves in the Sydney and Victoria regions have a great deal in common: both feature an upper anticyclone; air parcel trajectories that turn around this anticyclone and descend over the ocean; and convection in the tropics, which may enhance the upper anticyclone.

The main dynamical differences between heat waves in the Sydney area and those in Victoria are that Sydney heatwaves are associated with relatively weak anticyclones in the Tasman Sea in conjunction with relatively strong cyclones south of the continent, whereas in Victoria it is the opposite.

  • Parker, T. J., J. F. Quinting, and M. J. Reeder. 2019. The synoptic-dynamics of summertime heat waves in the Sydney Area (Australia). J. Southern Hemisphere Earth Sys. Sci.,