Australia had third-warmest year on record in 2018

sunrise over altona pier in melbourne
Every Australian state and territory had above average day and night-time temperatures, the Bureau of Meteorology says. Sunrise over Altona pier in Melbourne. Photograph: David Crosling/AAP

Bureau of Meteorology says average temperature was 1.14°C above average for 1961-1990, making 2018 slightly warmer than 2017

— Last year was Australia’s third-warmest year on record, with every state and territory recording above average temperatures in 2018.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement, the nation’s average temperature last year was 1.14°C above the average for 1961-1990, making 2018 slightly warmer than 2017.

“When we look across all of Australia in 2018, we can see that every single state and territory had above average day and night-time temperatures,” the bureau’s senior climatologist, Lynette Bettio, said in a statement on Thursday.

The average maximum temperature for the country as a whole was particularly warm, sitting 1.55°C above the 1961–1990 average, making 2018 Australia’s second warmest year on record for daily high temperatures.

Nine of the 10 warmest years on record in Australia have occurred since 2005.


Bettio said the only part of the country to buck the trend for above average temperatures was Western Australia’s Kimberley region, which had cooler than average nights for the year.

The bureau said rainfall totals in Australia in 2018 were the lowest since 2005.

The total was 11% below the 1961-1990 average, but many areas experienced significantly lower average rainfalls, the bureau found.

Bettio said large areas of south-east Australia had rainfall totals in the lowest 10% on record.

New South Wales had its sixth-driest year on record while the Murray-Darling Basin had its seventh driest.

However, some parts of northern Australia and south-east Western Australia received above average rainfall totals.

The climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, Richie Merzian, said the data confirmed what Australians knew about climate change.

He said increasingly hotter years were the country’s “new normal” and polling by the institute showed just under three quarters of Australians (73%) had serious concerns about climate change.

“Most Australians will feel vindicated that 2018 was officially one of the hottest years on record, having felt the impacts that are now becoming the new norm,” he said.

“We have entered a new normal of increasingly hotter years and in 2018 we had a spike in Australians seriously concerned about the changing climate – 73% in 2018, up from 66% in 2017.”

The bureau’s statement follows a run of exceptionally high temperatures around the nation late last month, along with a prolonged heatwave in Queensland in late November and early December.

Globally, 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service assessment, released on Tuesday.

The last four years have seen the highest average temperatures globally since records began in the 19th century.

by Lisa Cox and agencies | The Guardian