The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that 2014 was Australia’s third-warmest year since national records began in 1910.
Australian maximum and minimum temperatures remained well above average for most of 2014. February was the only month that recorded below average temperatures.
That continued a pattern of warm weather seen throughout 2013, which was Australia’s warmest year on record.
The bureau’s full weather breakdown of 2014 has now been , and reveals Australia’s area-averaged mean temperature last year was 0.91 degrees above the benchmark 1961-1990 average.
Maximum temperatures were 1.16 degrees above average, and minimum temperatures were 0.66 degrees above average, the bureau found.
While annual mean temperatures were near average for some northern parts of the continent, it was a very different story elsewhere.
The bureau reveals that annual mean temperatures were well above average for the southern states, for southern and western Queensland, and for most of Western Australia.
Nationally, six significant heatwaves were recorded through 2014; one, in southeast Australia in January, was the longest heatwave on record for that region.
Since 2002, Australia has recorded seven of its 10 warmest years on record.
In that time, only 2011 was cooler than average.
National rainfall figures mask worsening drought
Australia’s mean rainfall last year was 13mm above average (478mm recorded in 2014), and the Bureau says that puts 2014 near the median of historical observations.
Far north Queensland, central and eastern parts of the Northern Territory, central and eastern WA, and parts of South Australia all recorded above average rainfall in 2014.
But those national figures obscure a worsening drought in many of Australia’s major agricultural regions.
The majority of Victoria, all of Tasmania, southeast South Australia, WA’s South West Land Division and coastal Gascoyne, and a large area of northeast New South Wales and southern Queensland, all recorded ‘below average’ to ‘very much below average’ rainfall in 2014.
2014 could be the world’s warmest
Warmer temperatures were recorded much further afield than Australia in 2014, and the Bureau of Meteorology says last year may turn out to be the world’s warmest on record.
The World Meteorological Organisation is responsible for producing an estimated global mean temperature each year, based on data from agencies in the UK and USA.
The Bureau reports that preliminary data covering January to November puts the estimate for the world’s mean temperature in 2014 at 0.57 degrees, or 0.10 degrees above the 1961-1990 average.
Since 1985, no year has recorded a below-average global mean temperature, and all of the world’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 1998, the Bureau’s report notes.