The past year has been the hottest ever in Australia since temperatures have been recorded, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, with every one of the past 12 months recording hotter than average temperatures.
On average, August was the second warmest on record for maximum and mean temperatures for the whole of Australia, with the maximums averaging 2.60 °C above normal and the mean temperatures averaging 1.60 °C above normal.
Mean daily maximum temperature anomalies for August, 2013.
Maximum temperatures were in the highest 10 per cent of records for the majority of Australia during August with temperatures more than 3 °C above average throughout much of the interior of the mainland, according to the BOM.
Rainfall has also calculated at 46 per cent below the long-term average for August, with Queensland receiving the 5th lowest amount of rainfall for the month at 92 per cent below the long-term average.
The summer of 2012-13 (December-February) was the second warmest on record for maximum and mean temperatures behind 2005 for maximum temperature and 1988 for mean temperature.
We’ve also received a prolonged heatwave in southeast Australia between 2-13th of March this year, which followed the hottest national month on record in January.
Year-to-date sea surface temperature around Australia, showing temperatures have been above average to record warm in most oceans around Australia in 2013
Sea surface temperatures (SST) have also been exceptionally warm, with the hottest month on record in February and the warmest start to a calendar year (January – June) on record. This can only be bad news for already pressured Australian marine ecosystems, such as the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, with SST contributing to coral bleaching and loss of reef structures.
The 5th assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is to be revealed on September 27th in Stockholm. The document, focussed on global climate change science, will most likely set the tone for the climate change debate to come as it did so in 2007 with its fourth report.
The New York Times reported last week that the IPCC stated with near certainty that humans are responsible for the temperature increases of the most recent decades. Past IPCC reports have stated that it was 66 per cent certain that humans were responsible for temperature rises; the figure was then revised to 90 per cent in the 2007 report.
And to make things more interesting, next week we will have a new (or old) elected leader. With both major party leaders barely addressing climate change issues that have been presented, the future of climate change policies in Australia is up for grabs.
Tony Abbott plans to repeal the carbon tax and Kevin Rudd has played down the issue that once catapulted him to power. So now we’re left with the greens to play out the issue that will define our future.