Opinion

Third hottest year on record

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January 11, 2018

Bondi heat: NSW and Queensland experienced their warmest years on record in 2017.

Australia has had its third hottest year on record.

Queensland and NSW experienced their warmest years on record last year as the trend of warmer than average temperatures across Australia continued, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

‘‘Despite the lack of an El Nino — which is normally associated with our hottest years — 2017 was still characterised by very warm temperatures,’’ the bureau’s head of climate monitoring Dr Karl Braganza said.

The national mean temperature of 22.76°C — or 0.95°C above the long-term average — was the third highest since records began in 1910.

Both day and night-time temperatures were warmer than average, with the maximum for the year the second highest on record.

Prolonged high sea surface temperatures led to the first instance of back-to-back years of mass coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Braganza said dry and cloud-free conditions across much of south-east Australia during June and July led to warm, sunny days and chilly nights.

After a wet start to last year, the middle of the year was notably dry.

June was the second-driest on record nationally and September the driest for the Murray-Darling Basin, Dr Braganza noted.

He said there has been a gradual decline of about 10 to 20 per cent in rainfall during the cooler months of the year.

Seven of Australia’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 2015.

Dr Braganza said last year was likely to have been among the three warmest years on record globally.

‘‘Australia has been looking at an increased frequency of heatwaves and other extremes that have been positively associated with climate change,’’ he said.

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