If you were to read about "a metropolis of busy beaches and great nightlife", you might think it was referring to Malaga, but this was actually said in a travel feature about Perth, Australia. A study by Malaga university has discovered that the two cities have an almost identical climate, but in reverse - winter here is summer there, and vice versa. There are other similarities too: the urban structure of the two cities is similar, although in the case of Perth it is much more modern and developed, with higher apartment and office blocks, and more parks. The population (two million inhabitants) is also similar, if you look at the Costa del Sol as a single conurbation, and, curiously, the principal industrial estate in Perth is called 'Malaga' although in this case it comes from the Aboriginal language.
The study, led by Enrique Salvo, a professor of Biology and Climate Change at the university, shows that the two territories have the same average, maximum and minimum temperatures. "It is a remarkable mirror effect," says Salvo, although we should remember that they are in different hemospheres: August in Malaga is like February in Perth, and is the hottest month of the year (their summer starts on 21 December).
"I was looking to see if there was somewhere on the planet which is identical to Malaga and I found it in Australia," he says. The study relates to climate change, and whether catastrophes such as wildfires and heatwaves can be predicted. "By looking at what is happening there, we might be able to tell what was going to occur here six months later," he says, although he stresses that this is still just a hypothesis.
An ability to predict
Enrique Salvo explains that the climate of the planet depends on the circulation of air, particularly in the Arctic in the northern hemisphere and the Antarctic in the south. There are also circulations in great oceans, in our case the northern Atlantic. "As the seasons repeat later than in the other hemisphere, perhaps it would be possible to predict," he says.
The main environmental problems on the other side of the world also tend to be natural disasters. "With viruses we take into account what happened six months earlier in Argentina; with this tool we may be able to forecast the weather in the next season, and that is a way of adapting to and mitigating climate change," Salvo says. He intends to continue his study with other collaborators, and even a researcher in Perth to monitor the situation from there.