Today’s release of the Bureau of Meteorology Annual Climate Statement 2014 confirms Australia has recorded its third-warmest calendar year since national records began in 1910.
Assistant Director for Climate Information Services, Neil Plummer, said 2014 was characterised by frequent heatwaves and warm spells, and a notable reduction in cold weather.
“Much of Australia experienced temperatures very much above average in 2014, with mean temperatures 0.91°C above the long-term average,” said Mr Plummer.
“This follows the warmest year on record in 2013, which was 1.20°C warmer than average.
“Particularly warm conditions occurred in spring 2014, which was Australia’s warmest spring on record.
“El Niño-like effects were felt in drier and warmer conditions in much of eastern Australia during 2014.”
Other climate facts and events of significance in 2014 include:
- For Australia as a whole, rainfall was near average for the year, with 478mm (1961–1990 average 465mm).
- Prolonged rainfall deficiencies continued for inland and southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales.
- Six significant heatwaves and warm spells occurred, including one of southeast Australia’s most prolonged heatwaves in mid-January.
- A number of major bushfires occurred during January and February, with particularly destructive fires in Victoria and South Australia.
- Four tropical cyclones made landfall during 2014, with tropical cyclone Ita the most intense; crossing the coast near Cooktown as a category 4 system, bringing rainfall totals in excess of 300mm.
- A stormy spring, with severe thunderstorms striking Brisbane in late November, causing flash flooding, very large hailstones and destructive winds.
- An East Coast Low off the central and southern New South Wales coast in August caused storm damage and brought more than 100mm of rain to some parts of the coast.
- Sea surface temperatures around Australia were unusually warm; 0.49°C above average for the year to November.
Nationally, Australian temperatures have warmed approximately one degree since 1950, and the continued warmth in 2014 adds to this long-term warming trend.
Globally, preliminary estimates by the World Meteorological Organization has 2014 on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record.