Australia's hottest summer beats previous record by 'large margin'


Australia's hottest summer beats previous record by 'large margin'

As Australia welcomes the first day of autumn with a sigh of relief, the summer statistics have arrived from the Bureau of Meteorology confirming suspicions that the country just sweated through it's hottest-ever summer.

The national mean temperature for summer smashed the 1961-1990 average by a whopping 2.14 °C, almost a full degree above the previous hottest summer on record (2012-2013), which was 1.28 degrees above the old average.

Mean maximum temperatures for December 2019-February 2019 beat the last summer record by almost one degree. 

Mean maximum temperatures for December 2019-February 2019 beat the last summer record by almost one degree. Credit:Bureau of Meterology

The mean maximum temperature also beat the 2012-2013 mean maximum by a similar margin (2.61 degrees above average compared to 1.64 degrees above).

"It was exceptionally warm across most of the country," the weather bureau's summary states, with NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all recording their hottest-ever summer as severe and lengthy heatwaves spread across much of the country in December and January.

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The January heatwave was "unprecedented in scale and duration", the summary states, with new records set for individual daily extremes, hottest monthly averages at individual locations, and longest runs of consecutive warm days.

In Tasmania and South Australia it was the second-hottest summer on record, while in Queensland – which had record-high rainfall and flooding in the north – it came in fourth in terms of heat.

Apart from the north of Queensland where an active monsoon trough, slow-moving low pressure system and severe cyclone Owen caused heavy rainfall and extensive flooding, summer for most of Australia was very dry with "below to very much below average" rainfall.

The prolonged dry resulted in dust storms stretching from the centre of the country to the east coast on several occasions, while Tasmania had the driest summer on record.

The statement notes that the record-hot summer follows a string of warm months and warm seasons for Australia.

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"This pattern is consistent with observed climate change," the statement says, which means Australians should expect the mercury to continue to rise and records to continue to break.

"As the State of the Climate 2018 report outlines, Australia has warmed by over one degree since 1910, with most warming occurring since 1950."

"This means that natural climate variability sits on top of this background warming, and temperature records are likely to continue to be broken in the coming years."