2019 Summer heat wave – In the News

New Zealand is experiencing a heatwave once again this summer, meaning five consecutive days of maximum temperatures 5C above average.

Parts of the country have been experiencing temperatures in the mid 30Cs and Richmond broke a temperature record with 24.3C the highest minimum temperature from the past 157 years that records have been kept in the region.

Professor Jim Salinger told the NZ Herald that land air temperature is 1.4C higher than average, with sea surface temperature 1.8C higher than usual. He said, “with further global warming, what we are seeing now and last year’s summer could be the norm in the years 2081-2100”.

The high temperatures that Australia suffered “has helped warm the Tasman Sea and the air above it, helping to transport the warm air our way,” said Metservice meteorologist Tui Mcinnes.

Georgina Griffiths, also a Metservice meteorologist, added that the warm weather would have arrived in New Zealand regardless of the heatwave in Australia as warm air moving over the sea “mixes with our thicker, heat-trapping atmosphere”.

Dr Alex Macmillan, senior lecturer at the University of Otago, told the NZ Herald that even a short heatwave can increase deaths, instances of heat stroke and heart and lung disease. She warned that as heat records were being broken year after year due to climate change, adaptation plans need to be in place to protect people.

Coverage of the issue includes:

NZ Herald: Summer heatwave brings hot weather: Five big questions answered
Newstalk ZB: 157-year temperature record broken as country hit by heat wave
NZ Herald: Explained: what this summer heatwave is doing to your body
Newshub: New Zealand heatwave: Worst yet to come, expert warns
Stuff: New Zealand heatwave – the science behind why it’s so hot
Newshub: Weather: ‘Extreme’ fire danger for New Zealand as temperatures set to reach high 30s