State of the Climate 2014: Forecasting Australia’s Climate Trends

2014 State of the Climate ReportA definitive report on observed changes in long term trends in Australia’s climate has been released on March 4 by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Bureau Chief Executive Dr. Rob Vertessy said, “Temperatures across Australia were, on average, almost 1°C warmer than they were a century ago, with most of the warming having occurred since 1950.”

“Australia’s mean temperature has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910,” Dr. Vertessy said.

“Seven of the ten warmest years on record in Australia have occurred since 1998. When we compare the past 15 years to the period 1951 to 1980, we find that the frequency of very warm months has increased five-fold and the frequency of very cool months has decreased by around a third.”

“The duration, frequency and intensity of heatwaves have increased across large parts of Australia since 1950.”

“Extreme fire weather risk has increased, and the fire season has lengthened across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.”

“We have also seen a general trend of declining autumn and winter rainfall, particularly in southwestern and southeastern Australia, while heavy rainfall events are projected to increase. Australian average annual rainfall has increased slightly, largely due to increases in spring and summer rainfall, most markedly in northwestern Australia.”

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr. Megan Clark said Australia has warmed in every state and territory and in every season.

“Australia has one of the most variable climates in the world. Against this backdrop, across the decades, we’re continuing to see increasing temperatures, warmer oceans, changes to when and where rain falls and higher sea levels,” Dr. Clark said.

“The sea-surface temperatures have warmed by 0.9°C since 1900 and greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise.”

CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology play a key role in monitoring, measuring and reporting on weather and climate, contributing to improved understanding of Australia’s changing global climate system. State of the Climate 2014 is the third report in a series and follows earlier reports in 2010 and 2012.

State of the Climate: Fast Facts

Temperature

  • Australia’s mean surface air temperature has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910.
  • Seven of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.
  • Over the past 15 years, the frequency of very warm months has increased five-fold and the frequency of very cool months has declined by around a third, compared to 1951-1980.
  • Sea-surface temperatures in the Australian region have warmed by 0.9°C since 1900.
Australia's Annual Mean Temperature
Annual mean temperature changes across Australia since 1910. © Bureau of Meteorology

Rainfall

  • Rainfall averaged across Australia has slightly increased since 1900, with a large increase in northwest Australia since 1970.
  • A declining trend in winter rainfall persists in southwest Australia.
  • Autumn and early winter rainfall has mostly been below average in the southeast since 1990.

Heatwaves and Fire Weather

  • The duration, frequency and intensity of heatwaves have increased across large parts of Australia since 1950.
  • There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.