Australia's third hottest year on record

06 Jan, 2015 02:30 PM
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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    6/01/2015 3:16:27 PM

    We are doomed!
    6/01/2015 4:09:29 PM

    This article is just more AGW climate alarmist drivel from a serial offender that lurks the corridors of Fairfax.
    John NIven
    6/01/2015 6:06:43 PM

    So we are cooling ???
    6/01/2015 6:25:03 PM

    Then there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. All quite meaningless. If it doesn't get warmer or cooler it will remain about the same. Oh dear oh me which, if any, should I worry about.
    Ted O'Brien.
    7/01/2015 2:23:15 AM

    If we don't get new record highs, then the rate of warming would by now be falling. How does the 26 year (since 1988) trend line compare with the 126 year trend line? Right now I would expect they would be about the same, showing no response to the dramatically increasing CO2 emissions. Check it out, Peter, and while you are at it tell us if these temperatures are as read by the thermometers or have the numbers been adjusted/homogenised. The CO2 effect should be there, but these figures do not show it. Something bigger is hiding it.
    7/01/2015 4:28:06 AM

    And the record cold weather in the USA is just a figment of our imagination. ther-news/brutal-cold-midwest-eas t-next-week/39958655
    7/01/2015 4:39:01 AM

    And some more unfortunate truths. ther-blogs/weathermatrix/are-glob al-cold-records-overtaking-warm/2 4662335
    Bushie Bill
    7/01/2015 6:28:12 AM

    The time is rapidly approaching where sheer bloody-minded ignorance is no excuse and is totally unacceptable. On the other hand, George Brandis set the scene when he said it is ok for yobboes to be bigots, thus setting the scene for (usually) the same yobboes to justify ignorance as acceptable. How much damage will be done by this unfit to serve Coalition before they are unceremoniously dumped?
    7/01/2015 6:35:32 AM

    And who will we dump them for BB ? The ALP/Greens ? One would seriously hope Australia does not go down that track again for a very long time.
    7/01/2015 10:00:54 AM

    Do let us know when that time arrives, BB, because we can't see any difference between you and them. In answer to your question of damage, rest assured that it won't be anywhere near the extent done by the ALP before they were unceremoniously dumped.
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