2016 named Australia’s fourth-warmest year on record

05.01.17 By
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The fingerprints of climate change can be found all over Australia’s record-breaking year in 2016, the Climate Council said today.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement shows a number of records were broken throughout 2016, from land, ocean and seasonal temperatures, through to above average rainfall.

The national mean temperature jumped by 0.87 degrees, above the 1961 – 1990 average. In another hit, ocean temperatures reached the warmest ever experienced in Australia, with the annual sea surface mean temperature rising to 0.73°C above average.

Annual rainfall was 17% above average and Australia recorded its warmest Autumn on record, influenced by a strong El Niño.

Chief Climate Councillor Professor Tim Flannery said the record-breaking year included some of the worst impacts of climate change seen in Australia to date, including the Great Barrier Reef’s worst ever coral bleaching event, a huge mangrove die-off in Northern Australia and World Heritage forests razed by bushfires in Tasmania.

“Another year has passed and we have another set of records that build on a disturbing long-term warming trend,” he said.

“The question is, what are we doing about it? While global emissions have flatlined for three years in a row, Australia’s have risen for the past two years after a brief decline while we had a price on carbon.

“It’s clear we do not have an effective plan for reducing emissions and meeting our international pledges. All the while, Australians are being harmed by worsening extreme weather events as farmers lose crops to unprecedented heatwaves, infrastructure and communities are damaged by heavy rainfall and people lose their homes to bushfires.”

Professor Flannery said the trend of extreme rainfall events was being seen worldwide, as a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture and water vapour increases by 7% for every centigrade of warming.

“These records are a clear indication that the window of opportunity to act and limit the devastating impacts of climate change is closing.

“We are now experiencing the beginnings of what a future with worsening climate change looks like: intense heatwaves, severe bushfires and destructive storms, along with devastating damage to the economy, infrastructure, livelihoods and ecosystems as a result.”

For more information please contact Climate Council Media Advisor Alexia Boland on 0430 511 068 and at alexia@climatecouncil.org.au