Australia's third hottest year on record

06 Jan, 2015 02:30 PM
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A number of prolonged and geographically extensive warm spells affected Australia during 2014

AUSTRALIA has capped two years of extraordinary warmth with 2014 declared the third hottest on record just 12 months after 2013 smashed annual highs, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Mean temperatures across the country in 2014 came in 0.91 degrees above the 1961-1990 average, behind only 2013 and 2005.

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  • No year since 1985 has observed a below-average global mean temperature and all of the 10 warmest years have occurred between 1998 and the present.

    Melbourne posted its equal warmest year on record in 2014, while Sydney's average mean temperatures were 1.6 degrees above average, placing it behind only 2013.

    "in 2014, we had quite a few heatwaves that contributed to those very warm conditions," said Agata Imielska, senior climatologist at the Bureau in Sydney. "There have been a lack of cool outbreaks."

    Among the states, NSW had its hottest year for means on record last year, while Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia all posted their second warmest years. Only the Northern Territory missed out on a ranking among the four warmest years.

    "A number of prolonged and geographically extensive warm spells affected Australia during 2014, resulting in monthly records for highest temperature being set at numerous locations," the bureau said in its annual climate statement.

    The unusual warmth over the past two years has come despite the absence of a full El Nino in the Pacific, a climate pattern that tends to push up temperatures across much of Australia and south-east Asia.

    Climatologists say background conditions are warming as a build-up of greenhouse gases traps more of the sun's heat in the atmosphere, making it increasingly likely that heat rather than cold records get broken.

    "Global warming is contributing to these heat records, and it's very unlikely that we would have seen the proliferation or the frequency of these heat records around the world without the influence of global warming," head of climate monitoring at the Bureau Karl Braganza said.

    "The climate system we live in...that's all about 1 degree warmer than it used to be," Dr Braganza said.

    Warming up

    Tuesday's release of the annual survey comes a day after Perth reported its hottest January day for that site, with 44.4 degrees, and fire crews in South Australia continue to battle bushfires across the state as a second heatwave in less than a week laps over the region.

    With 2014 likely to be declared the warmest year on record globally, the Japan Meteorological Agency made the call this week and other agencies are expected to follow suit later this month.

    "No year since 1985 has observed a below-average global mean temperature and all of the 10 warmest years have occurred between 1998 and the present," the Bureau of Meteorology said in the statement.

    While last year was a warm one for most of the country, rainfall levels varied significantly. National rainfall came in at 478 millimetres, or 3 per cent above average, thanks largely to a wet year in northern Australia.

    Much of western Victoria, south-eastern South Australia, northern NSW and south-eastern Queensland were in their lowest 10 per cent of years for rainfall.

    "National rainfall totals during 2014 reinforce the pattern of recent decades, with above-average rainfall during the peak of the summer monsoon season and below-average rainfall during the cooler half of the year," the report said.

    The shift towards a drying out of the winter season in southern Australia is forcing farmers to alter their harvesting practices.

    Victoria has been notably drier, with 15 of the past 18 years drier than the long-term average. The relatively wet years - 2000, 2010 and 2011 - were all La Nina years, when conditions in the Pacific favour rainfall and cooler conditions over eastern Australia.

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    READER COMMENTS

    nico
    27/01/2015 6:44:56 AM

    A total non sequitur, Bigfoot. Firstly, you need to travel a bit more, get out, see the world, find out what "leftist" actually means. Second, the fact that some of the media does its job and reports on climate science, tells you nothing at all about the political views of scientists. Really, Bigfoot, there is no conspiracy.
    Bigfoot
    26/01/2015 6:36:50 PM

    Because Nico, it seems the leftist media are the one pushing the AGW fear mongering the most! Like our good old auntie ABC and your ever faithful servant to a good scare, Fairfax.
    nico
    21/01/2015 11:21:15 AM

    Bigfoot, why do you believe that? Qlander, will you answer my questions?
    Bigfoot
    19/01/2015 6:13:43 AM

    I would say that 90 per cent of scientists are not leftist. But I would guess 90pc of scientists pushing the AGW story are leftist.
    nico
    17/01/2015 7:20:27 AM

    Of course, Qlander. But real science contains more than just verified facts, which are in themselves meaningless. Real science demands theory and prediction. If the theory is correct, then we should expect a certain result. If the result is otherwise, then either the facts are wrong, or the theory is wrong, and must be corrected. Real science is a dynamic process. Now, do you accept sociology as a real science? Do you accept that a sociologist may be in possession of observed and verified facts? Is it possible, in Qland, for a sociologist to propound a valid theory?
    Qlander
    16/01/2015 1:34:53 PM

    Real science relies on 'verifying all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment’
    nico
    16/01/2015 1:25:02 PM

    Oh, sucked in ...
    Jacky
    16/01/2015 11:20:49 AM

    Nico, I was taking the p..s.
    nico
    16/01/2015 11:15:23 AM

    Qlander, you make a broad-brush assertion about "political posturing". But that's not what is in question. I asked about science. Do you refuse to accept the validity of social science? What do you mean by "real science"?
    nico
    16/01/2015 11:04:22 AM

    Jacky, you suggested that 90% of scientists are "leftist". I asked for evidence to back up your notion. You cite conspiracies associated with the Kennedy assassination, the World Trade Centre, and global climate change. How do any of these events show that scientists are "leftist"? Even if you believe the conspiracies that you hint at, what has this to do with scientists? Which planet are you on?
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