Australia sweated through its third-warmest year on record in 2018, as disturbing Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) figures point to a trend of soaring temperatures and diminishing rainfall.
Every state and territory recorded above average temperatures last year, eclipsing the sweltering conditions of 2017, our previous third hottest year.
The nation’s average temperature in 20-18 was 1.14C above the average for 1961-1990, the BoM said in its annual climate statement.
“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,” BoM senior climatologist Lynette Bettio said in a statement Thursday.
Australia’s warmest year on record was 2013, when temperatures were 1.33 degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 mean. Second was 2005 at 1.15C above the mean, narrowly beating out 2018 at 1.14C above.
Dr Bettio said the only part of the country to buck the trend for above average temperatures was WA’s Kimberley region, which had cooler than average nights for the year.
The bureau also said rainfall totals in Australia in 2018 were the lowest since 2005.
The total was 11 per cent below the 1961-1990 average, but many areas experienced significantly lower average rainfalls, the bureau found.
Dr Bettio said large areas of southeast Australia had rainfall totals in the lowest 10 per cent on record.
NSW had its sixth-driest year on record while the Murray-Darling Basin had its seventh driest.
However, some parts of northern Australia and southeast Western Australia received above average rainfall.
Richie Merzian, head of The Australia Institute’s climate and energy program, said people were increasingly concerned about the changing climate as the nation enters a “new normal” of hotter temperatures.
“It is unbelievable and disheartening that as the country cooks, the Morrison government is rushing to use taxpayer dollars to fund new coal fired power stations,” he said on Thursday.
The BoM 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.