Natural hazards in Australia: heatwaves

S. E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, C. J. White, L. V. Alexander, D. Argüeso, G. Boschat, T. Cowan, J. P. Evans, M. Ekström, E. C. J. Oliver, A. Phatak, A. Purich

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As part of a special issue on natural hazards, this paper reviews the current state of scientific knowledge of Australian heatwaves. Over recent years, progress has been made in understanding both the causes of and changes to heatwaves. Relationships between atmospheric heatwaves and large-scale and synoptic variability have been identified, with increasing trends in heatwave intensity, frequency and duration projected to continue throughout the 21st century. However, more research is required to further our understanding of the dynamical interactions of atmospheric heatwaves, particularly with the land surface. Research into marine heatwaves is still in its infancy, with little known about driving mechanisms, and observed and future changes. In order to address these knowledge gaps, recommendations include: focusing on a comprehensive assessment of atmospheric heatwave dynamics; understanding links with droughts; working towards a unified measurement framework; and investigating observed and future trends in marine heatwaves. Such work requires comprehensive and long-term collaboration activities. However, benefits will extend to the international community, thus addressing global grand challenges surrounding these extreme events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-114
Number of pages14
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1
Early online date11 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016


  • heatwaves
  • Australia
  • unified measurement framework
  • global challenges
  • climate change

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