In data stretching back more than 100 years, 2013 was the hottest year on record across Australia. This hardly came as a surprise, as seven of the 10 warmest years on record have all happened since 1998.
So the breaking of more than 150 temperature records in the summer just ended was no shock to meteorologists at the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM).
Perth: Warmest ever night 29.7C.
Adelaide: Hottest February day 44.7C.
Queensland: Driest summer on record at 45 locations.
Melbourne: Hottest ever 24 hour period with average temperature 35.5C.
New South Wales: Driest summer on record at 38 locations.
Canberra: 4 days in a row over 39C.
The country’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is a climate skeptic who has moved to abolish a carbon tax designed to combat climate change. But researchers from the BoM and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are in little doubt that climate change is to blame.
A joint study by these organisations reported that temperatures across Australia were, on average, almost 1C higher than they were a century ago.
“The latest summer was another example of climate change tearing through the record books,” said Tim Flannery of the Climate Commission which analyses climate data from across the country.
“It’s not just about one summer but an overall trend to more extreme weather. Things are getting bad and if we want to stop them getting worse this is the critical decade for action. We need to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases and we need to do it urgently.”
The outlook for the rest of 2014 is not good. It is thought that a developing El Nino event later in the year could result in higher than average temperatures. Drought conditions are also likely to persist in the north and east of the country.