2018-19 season tops temperature highs across the country, exceeding previous record set six years ago
— Australia has endured its hottest summer ever, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, breaking the previous record set six years ago.
The 2018-19 summer, which produced near 50°C days and topped temperature highs across the country, has officially exceeded the previous record set in 2012-13, which was 1.28°C above what is considered normal. Climate analysts say it falls into a pattern of human-induced global warming.
January alone had already been confirmed as the hottest month ever recorded in Australia, with a mean temperature across the nation of 30.8°C, which was 2.9°C above the average for January temperatures (calculated between 1961–1990) of 27.9°C.
On Thursday, the BoM revealed the whole season was officially the hottest ever recorded.
While exact figures are not yet confirmed, the bureau said this summer’s mean temperature was at least 2°C above the 27.5°C benchmark of what is considered normal, based on 1961-1990.
“Summer has been our warmest summer on record in terms of maximum temperatures, in terms of minimum temperatures and in terms of mean temperatures,” said Andrew Watkins, the BoM’s manager of long-range forecasting.
The statistics will come as no surprise to Australians who sweltered through back-to-back heatwaves and battled bushfires across the country.
In January alone, Adelaide broke its all-time heat record with a 46.6°C day, Port Augusta broke its record with 48.9°C, and then broke it again with 49.5°C a week later.
The small New South Wales town of Noona also broke the record for the highest overnight minimum ever recorded, with a night that never dropped below 39.5°C. And in Cloncurry in Queensland, residents endured 43 days in a row over 40°C, Watkins said.
This summer’s extreme temperatures had been predicted since late last year, with the BoM’s climate outlook forecasting a drier, hotter summer due to the El Niño weather event, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole and the effect of global warming.
The “long-term increasing trend in global air and ocean temperatures” was a factor in the hotter-than-average summer, the report said in October.
On Thursday, the BoM also updated its outlook for the coming autumn, saying there were “very high odds” that hot, dry conditions would continue.
Watkins warned that while some high rainfall events could occur, it would largely be bad news for drought-stricken farmers. “I wish we had better news than that,” he said.
Also on Thursday, Victorian health authorities warned of a late summer heatwave that would bring 40°C temperatures on Saturday.
The bureau has forecast a heatwave across most of Victoria over the weekend, and Victoria’s chief health officer issued a health alert for parts of the state from Thursday to Saturday.
Pregnant women, the elderly, children and people with medical conditions have been warned to take care.
Victoria’s emergency management commissioner, Andrew Crisp, also warned there was a high fire risk, peaking at a severe fire danger rating in parts on Saturday.
by Naaman Zhou | The Guardian