Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Australian weather

February is usually the hottest month in Australia.  This year, it was hotter in January, when our friend Maurice came out to see us.  So Maurice had freezing weather when he left the UK, and arrived to 3 weeks of heat reaching 41C, then returned to the freezing UK. 

February, to me, seemed a little cooler than January.  Plenty of days at with temperatures in the high 30s but few reaching 40C.  The last week of Feb was really nice with temperatures in the low 30s.  I was relieved that we were approaching autumn.  Then on the news last night, it was announced that there had been 11 heatwaves since November.  A heatwave is defined as 3 consecutive days where the temperature reaches over 35C.  And there are normally only 3 days in March when the temperature reaches over 35C.  So far this March, we have had 4 days over 35C, and we are heading for another 5 day heatwave over the weekend.  I wish it would cool down.  I can cope with the low 30s quite well, but I find the higher temperatures a strain.  Today was cooler than yesterday, as the wind had changed.  Yesterday, the wind was from the east, blowing from the desert and was like being in a blast furnace.  Then the buildings warm up and start radiating heat at night.

The news also showed a massice ice cave breaking up in the antactic.  I am not surprised that this is what global warming is creating. However, I look at the change in building styles and I am not surprised. 

I travel a lot by bus, through older and newer areas, and I look at a lot of domestic architecture and gardens, as well as offices.  Perth strikes me as an area with a lot of space.  Compared to London suburbs, Perth is a compact city.  Older homes were built with a verandah to shade the windows, which reduces the temperature of air coming into the home.  Then plants were grown around the verandah.  This also shades the area, and I think the plants cool the air further, by transpiration.  It creates a shady area around the house.  Also the occupants can see out through the plants, but onlookers cannot see in.  Most homes had a large garden at the back.  However over the years, people have developed their land by putting another property at the rear - so that neither home has a garden.  It must be like the UK, where if you cover the garden with brick/concrete, it creates problems with run-off of water.  In the UK, planning regulations state you cannot build on more than 15% of your garden area, which I think is a good rule.  Here, the planning regs are obviously different.  So now, homes are being built with no verandah, no space for plants around the house, and the windows are larger, and on the immediate periphery of the building - not recessed at all.  And in order to keep the buildings cool, everyone has aircon.  We all use computers that throw out heat, then use aircon to push hot air out of buildings, and we wonder why we have global warming.

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