AUSTRALIA has recorded its fifth-warmest year on record in 2015 in a year that also brought unseasonably early heatwaves and bushfires and devastating drought.
The Bureau of Metereology Annual Climate Statement found the national mean temperature was 0.83°C above average as the influence of climate change and powerful El Nino sealed an extra-warm end to the year.
Statistics released later this month are expected to confirm that 2015 was the hottest year on record globally.
The statement also confirmed:
- Australia’s record-hot October was off-the-charts with the largest mean temperature anomaly on record for any month
- National rainfall for 2015 was 5% below the 1961–1990 average, with rainfall very below average for parts of the Top End, most of Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, southeast and western South Australia, and southwest Western Australia
- October–December was also the warmest on record for both maximum and minimum temperatures.
- Significant agricultural losses resulted from the dry and warm conditions during September and October as large areas of crops across southern Australia failed and were cut for hay. Estimated losses were expected to be on the order of at least $1 to $2 billion in Victoria alone.
The Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen said research had shown that Australia’s record-hot October was much less likely to occur without the influence of climate change.
“Behind the overwhelming amount of data that show our climate is changing, we also have people all over Australia already suffering as climate change continues to worsen many extreme weather events,” he said, “
“We have farmers struggling through drought and losing crops due to unseasonably early warm spells, we have people losing their homes to bushfires and the elderly and the vulnerable suffering through more frequent, severe and intense heatwaves.
“All of these extreme events underscore why it’s so important to act with urgency to stabilise the climate. The Paris agreement has given the Australian Government a clear framework for what needs to be done and we must get on with the job of rapidly transitioning to a zero-emissions economy.”
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