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Australia’s heatwave not set to end yet, warns expert

Donna Coutts, February 9, 2017 5:45PM Herald Sun

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DID you need a cold bath, a fan or an airconditioner to get comfortable the past couple of nights? You’re not alone. Victorians spent a restless night on Wednesday as the temperature stayed in the high 20s before another hot day yesterday. A welcome cool change in the south of the state and across Melbourne yesterday afternoon cooled things a little.

But spare a thought for people around the country battling even higher temperatures, with no cool change on its way any time soon. In Victoria’s northwest, around Mildura and Swan Hill, top temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday were around 44C and it is forecast* to be hot again on Friday and Saturday. Northerly winds are pushing hot air from Central Australia into the state.

Tarcoola in South Australia was forecast to reach 47C yesterday. The SES has issued an extreme heat warning for all of South Australia, with conditions described as very hot, humid and sunny.

Sydney is in for three hot, humid days in the high 30s, with a cool change expected Monday. In southwest Queensland, schoolchildren have been kept indoors in an attempt to keep them safe from the extreme heat.

Everyone needs to keep cool in a heatwave, including pets. Picture: Nigel Hallet media_cameraEveryone needs to keep cool in a heatwave, including pets. Picture: Nigel Hallet

Andrea Peace from the Bureau of Meteorolgy* said the heatwave has been caused by a high pressure system* sitting in the middle level of the atmosphere*. That high is preventing cooler weather systems from pushing the hot air out.

If you were hanging out for the cooler months to bring an end to this weather you may have to wait a little longer according to Martin Babakian, a meteorologist* at Newscastle University.

“I don’t think it’s going to end, I think it’s going to carry on until May,” Mr Babakian said.

“We’re going to see temperatures above average in April and May, the conditions will be warmer and warmer.”

While the current heatwave is not unusual for this time of year, Mr Babakian said the prolonged* heat to come is new. He added that climate change was to blame.

“Definitely climate change is playing an important role,” he said.

“The dynamic* of the atmosphere is changing and this [the heatwaves] are going to become part of it.”

That’s an assessment shared by the Climate Council. Its severe weather report found Queensland was in line for an increased number of 35C-plus days, more frequent thunderstorms and more intense cyclones during the coming years. The Climate Council is a not-for-profit, crowd-funded, independent organisation that shares expert scientific advice on climate change.


forecast: predicted

meteorology: the science of weather and climate

high pressure system: a whirling mass of dry air that brings fine and sunny weather

atmosphere: the layer of air around the earth

meteorologist: a weather and climate scientist

prolonged: continuing for a long time

dynamic: a force that makes change happen



Activity 1. What’s the Word?

Write a sentence that explains the meaning of these words or phrases from the story:







weather system

high pressure system

cool change



climate change

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English, Geography , Science

Extension: What problems can a heatwave cause? Locate information from the following websites:

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience

Scientific American

Use the information that you have located to create a Heatwave Survival Guide for your school. Your Guide could include posters, a vlog, a leaflet, a set of rules for what should happen at school during severe heat or anything else that you think would suit your school community.

Time: allow 60 minutes to complete the extension task

Curriculum links: Science, Health and Physical Education , Critical and Creative Thinking

Activity 2. Climate Change

The story mentions climate change.

Find out more about what causes climate change. List as many things that you, your class, your family and your community can do to help stop or slow down climate change.

Use the following weblink to help you learn more about climate change:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency

​Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: Geography , Science

Extension: ​Some people say that climate change is not a problem. Use the information that you have leaned in today’s activities to write a speech or a letter to the Editor of the Herald Sun explaining your opinion on this issue.

Time: allow 40 minutes to complete the extension task

Curriculum links: English , Geography , Science , Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP Activity

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)

Activity: Adjective Hunt

There are at least 10 adjectives hiding within the article. Can you identify them? I wonder if you looked really closely, would you find any others? Sometimes adjectives are difficult to find!

Once you have identified at least 10 adjectives, challenge yourself to uplevel them within the article? Do they change the way a sentence sounds?

Remember, sometimes an adjective is used on purpose and doesn’t need to be up-levelled. Are the adjectives you found appropriate for where they are or does your up-levelling make it sound better?

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete the task

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write, VCOP

Activity provided by Andrell Education





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