Observed Australian
climate change

Data collected and analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology show that 2013 was Australia's warmest year on record, with sea surface temperatures unusually high throughout the year.

Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910, and the pace of warming has accelerated since 1950. Over the past 10 years, the temperatures over land have been the equal-highest on record, whereas those for the sea surface have been the warmest ever.

Long-term observations are discussed in State of the Climate 2016, by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. Findings include:

  • Australia is getting warmer and the frequencies of extreme weather conditions have changed (more hot days and fewer cool nights).
 Distribution of montly maximum and mimimum temperature
Distribution of monthly maximum temperature (left) and monthly minimum temperature (right), expressed as anomalies (standardised), aggregated across 104 locations and all months of the year, for three periods: 1951–1980 (pink, grey), 1981–2010 (orange, green) and 1999–2013 (red, blue). Means and standard deviations used in the calculation of the standardised anomalies are with respect to the 1951–1980 base period in each case. Very warm and very cool months correspond to two standard deviations or more from the mean. The vertical axis shows how often temperature anomalies of various sizes have occurred in the indicated periods (State of the Climate 2016).
  • Extreme weather conditions have lengthened the fire season in large areas of Australia since the 1970s.
Trends in extreme fire weather days across Australia
The map shows the trends in extreme fire weather days (annual 90th percentile of daily FFDI values) at 38 climate reference sites. Trends are given in FFDI points per decade and larger circles represent larger trends. Filled circles represent trends that are statistically significant. One location, Brisbane Airport, shows a non-significant decrease (State of the Climate 2016).
  • Australian rainfall is highly variable. In recent decades, there have been trends of increasing spring and summer monsoonal rainfall across Australia’s north, higher than normal rainfall in central regions, and decreased late autumn and winter rainfall over the south.
Southern wet season deciles since 1996
Southern wet season (April–November) rainfall deciles since 1996. A decile map shows the extent that rainfall is above average, average or below average for the specified period, in comparison with the entire rainfall record from 1900. The southern wet season is defined as April to November by the Bureau of Meteorology (State of the Climate 2016).
  • Rises in sea level vary around the Australian region, with higher rates observed in the north than in the south and east, where rises are similar to the global average.

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