The heat can be excruciating, and the cold can be downright terrifying.
So the question arises: is it OK to get cold?
That’s the topic of a new study published in Nature Communications.
The study’s lead author, Dr Mark Stearns, from the University of Melbourne, wanted to find out.
“We looked at some of the more common weather extremes, such as heat waves, and then we looked at what we’d expect to see if you had to get really cold in a particular area, and if you could get a lot of cold in that same area, you’d expect that the heat would increase,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Morning Report.
“So it’s something we looked into in our own work in the past, where we looked across a range of climate extremes and we saw the same thing, that the colder you are, the more heat you generate.”
Dr Stearnes’ research also looks at the role of wind.
“Wind is really important in terms of convection, the process where warm air is carried by the cold air and it pulls the heat up and then it gets carried further away by the cooler air and so on,” he said.
“What we found was that wind is actually a big driver of how much heat you can generate in a given area.”
But the question is, if you have this huge amount of wind and there’s a lot more cold air that you can carry, why are you so cold?
“And this is where climate models come in.
If you can make a prediction about where the weather is going to be, it’s going to have to be based on a lot about what happens when you’re getting really cold.”
The study used a computer model to simulate a range, from about 0 degrees Celsius in the Northern Hemisphere to around 40 degrees Celsius near the equator.
Dr Stears said it was interesting to see how climate models differed from reality.
“It’s a really good thing that we have climate models, because we can understand what’s going on with the weather at the same time,” he explained.
“Climate models are actually very good at predicting where the extremes will occur, because they’re able to simulate the weather with a very high degree of accuracy.”
He said the models also had a lot to say about where different temperatures would be, and where that could be more important.
“You can’t predict weather extremes very well from climate models because we’re so far away from the weather extremes,” he explains.
“A lot of the time we’re very close, but we don’t have a lot information about where these extremes will be.”
That’s where the climate models have an enormous amount of influence on the temperature we see in the real world.
“How much heat does it take to get to the beach?
Dr Stakes said that when we’re in a state of extreme heat, we can expect to feel the effects of that heat.”
This is the temperature where the sun is shining, the average temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius, and so you’re going to feel a lot better if you’ve got a lot less heat,” he says.”
In terms of that, when you get to your destination, you can actually get to a place with less heat, because you’ll have less heat coming in.
“Dr Daniel Molloy, an ecologist at the University the Netherlands, has a different take.”
I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that the average summer temperature is going for two or three degrees higher than the average winter temperature,” he tells ABC Radio Adelaide.”
For instance, it seems like the average Melbourne summer temperature was about 15 degrees higher in 2014 than it was in 2015, but there’s an important caveat.
“If we have a large amount of extreme hot weather, like in summer, then you will have very little cooling down time.”
So how much is too much?
The researchers looked at the impact of climate change on extreme weather, using the model.
“The model we used is actually pretty good at forecasting the potential for extreme heat events, but that’s because it has very strong relationships with the climate, so we’re able not only to forecast but also predict extreme weather,” Dr Stears explained.
For example, he said, the model predicted the possibility of a heat wave in Victoria in 2021.
“Even if we look at a 50-year time scale, you would expect there to be more extreme heatwaves in Victoria over the course of the 50 years than any other decade,” he noted.
“Of course, in the current climate, we have much more variability in the climate.”
To make a longer-term forecast, you need to take a lot into account.
“But Dr Molloyle said it wasn’t just extreme heat that could make a difference.”
With this type of weather, if we had the