Bureau of Meteorologist says global warming contributed to soaring temperatures
— January was Australia’s hottest month on record, with the country’s mean temperature exceeding 30°C for the first time since records began in 1910.
The Bureau of Meteorology released its climate summary for January on Friday and said the widespread heatwave conditions and daily extremes were “unprecedented”.
“There’s been so many records it’s really hard to count,” said Andrew Watkins, a senior climatologist at the Bom.
January was Australia’s warmest month for mean, maximum and minimum temperatures.
Large parts of Australia received only 20% of their normal rainfall, particularly throughout the south-east in Victoria and parts of New South Wales and South Australia.
Tasmania, which has been battling bushfires throughout the past month, had its driest ever January.
Watkins said Borrona Downs in north-west NSW broke the record for hottest minimum temperature, registering one night at 36.6°C.
Port Augusta recorded the country’s highest ever temperature in January, reaching 49.5°C.
“We’ve also seen records in many states set including places like Victoria where Swan Hill and Kerang got up over 47.5°C,” Watkins said.
Menindee in far-west NSW, the site of December and January’s mass fish kills, had four days in a row of temperatures above 47°C.
In parts of western Queensland and western NSW, there have been long strings of more than 40 days of temperatures above 40°C.
Cloncurry had 43 days in a row that exceeded 40°C.
Birdsville in the state’s west had 16 days in January of temperatures higher than 45°C and 10 of those days were in a row.
Bom said a persistent high-pressure system in the Tasman Sea that blocked cold fronts and cooler air from reaching the country’s south, and a delayed monsoon in the north, contributed to the heatwave.
“The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1°C in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions,” Watkins said.
New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and the Northern Territory all had their warmest January on record.
by Lisa Cox | The Guardian