Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2013, the Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed, with temperatures 1.2C above the long-term average.
The bureau said the new high, which breaks the record set in 2005 by 0.17C, “continues the trend” of steadily rising temperatures in Australia, which has seen the country warm by about 1C since 1950.
The year saw a number of individual records fall, including: The warmest summer and spring seasons ever recorded.
- 7 January was the hottest summer day ever recorded, at a national average maximum of 40.3C.
- January’s heatwave set records for the hottest day, week and month on record, as well as a new record for the number of consecutive days the national average temperature exceeded 39C – seven days between 2 and 8 January.
- The highest temperature recorded in 2013 was in Moomba in South Australia, where the mercury rose to 49.6C – the highest in Australia since 1998.
- 31 August was the warmest-ever winter day at 29.9C.
- South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all broke their annual average temperature records, while all other states ranked in their top four years.
- Overall, 2013 was 1.2C above the long-term average of 21.8C set between 1961 and 1990. The 10-year mean temperature for 2004 to 2013 was 0.5C above this average, with just one year in the past decade, 2011, cooler than average.
In its annual climate statement report, the bureau highlighted the influence of carbon emissions upon the warming trend, stating: “The Australian region warming is very similar to that seen at the global scale and the past year emphasises that the warming trend continues.
“As summarised in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, recent warming trends have been dominated by the influence of increasing greenhouse gases and the enhanced greenhouse effect.”
The bureau said sea surface temperatures were “unusually warm” in 2013, with preliminary data placing the year at 0.51C above the long-term average. Warming oceans pose a serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef, with coral bleaching contributing to the ecosystem losing half of its coral cover in the past 30 years.
Nationally, rainfall was 37mm below the long-term average in 2013, ranking it as the 52nd driest year on record. Rainfall was below average in Queensland, Victoria and parts of NSW and South Australia. Sydney and parts of Western Australia experienced higher rainfall than average.