2013: Australia’s Warmest Year on Record
As the most intense cold wave to envelop a large portion of the U.S. since 1996 unfolds, record warmth has been the story for much of the rest of the world, including California, but especially in Australia where 2013 has been determined to be the continent’s warmest calendar year on record. This year has begun with yet more records. Here are some details.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a special statement on January 3rd confirming that 2013 was the nation’s warmest year on record (since 1910) so far as annual average temperature. The average was 21.8°C (71.2°F) which surpassed the previous warmest year of 21.63°C (70.9°F) set in 2005. 2013 was 1.2°C (2.2°F) above the long-term normal.Every state averaged above normal in 2013 with at least portions of every state observing their warmest year on record with the exception of Tasmania.
Map courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.The daily national temperature anomalies for Australia as a whole in 2013. September was the most anomalous month every recorded on the continent (see list of superlatives below).
Table from Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Last January (2013) started the ball rolling with an extreme heat wave, one of the worst in Australian history. The peak of the heat wave occurred January 2-8, which was Australia’s hottest week on record with January 7th being the single hottest day (nation-wide) ever observed. The entire month of January also became the single warmest month in Australian records. The point maximum temperature was 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Moomba, South Australia on January 12th, the warmest reading measured anywhere in the country since 1998 and the 6th hottest officially observed at any site in Australian for any month. Interestingly, this month (January 2014) is starting off with similar extremes. Just last week on January 2nd, Moomba hit 49.3°C (120.7°F). Even more remarkable was the 49.1°C (120.4F) observed at Walgett in New South Wales on January 3rd (2014). This was the 2nd hottest temperature ever measured in the state falling short of the all-time record of 49.7°C (121.5°F) set at Menindee Post Office on January 10, 1939.
Here is a brief list of some of the 2013 temperature anomaly highlights:Above list prepared by Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
One of the reasons for the unusual warmth in 2013 was very high sea surface temperatures (SST), the third warmest on record according to preliminary data. See map below:
More alarming is the long-term trend of the SST’s over Australia’s period of record since 1910 that have roughly followed the temperature trend as well: All above maps and graphics by Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
The unusual heat contributed to a number of destructive wild fires (or bush fires as they are called in Australia). One of the worst, in terms of damage, was that which scorched southeastern Tasmania during the early January heat wave of 2013. A total of 25,500 hectares (62,000 acres) burned with 193 homes destroyed along with an additional 186 other buildings. Even larger and more destructive wild fires occurred during the early spring heat waves of September and October when 50,000 hectares (124,000 acres) were scorched and 193 homes lost in the Blue Mountain area west of Sydney.
It will be interesting to see how Australia fares in 2014, having once more started off with some anomalous heat.KUDOS:
Australian Bureau of Meteorology for all of the above graphics and Blair Trewin for bringing this to my attention.
Christopher C. Burt