The temperatures in parts of Australia are literally so off the charts that Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology added a new color, deep purple, to the chart to signify temperatures up to 54C/129.2F and greater than 50C/122F. The recent forecast is showing readings well above the previous record of 50.4C/122.72F.
Record temperatures are also making news in the United States. NOAA announced yesterday that 2012 is officially the warmest year on record, and the second highest year of extremes, for the contiguous United States. For more on that announcement see NOAA’s State of the Climate National Overview, 2012.
In many ways, the creation of “deep purple” for the color of new temperature extremes is appropriate. Purple is a non-spectral color, meaning that there is no “wavelength of purple light” on the visible light spectrum (the purple we do see is actually frequencies of blue and red). So, let’s hope that reaching deep purple is not a new trend, and that we won’t have to venture into the un-seeable spectrum of a future much warmer than the records we’re seeing today.