Drought in the Southern Downs tied to worrying global trend
CLIMATE change and natural variability are the causes of the past year's extremes in heat and drought, according to the Bureau of Meteorology annual climate statement.
The statement said 2018 was Australia's third-warmest year on record. It shows nine of the past 10 years have been warmer than average and only one of Australia's 10 warmest years occurred before 2015.
"The background warming trend can only be explained by human influence on the global climate,” the report stated.
Australia's mean temperature for 2018 was 1.14C above the 1961-1990 average.
BOM meteorologist Chris Joseph said Queensland sweated through its fifth hottest year on record and it followed a wider trend.
"Maximum temperatures, minimum temperatures and sea water temperatures are all showing upward trend, and that continues globally,” he said.
"That trend started in 1910 and continues to 2018.”
Not only was it hot but it was dry. Rainfall was very much below average for the southern half of the country.
Queensland rainfall was 15 per cent less than the average, while the Murray-Darling Basin received about 41 per cent less rain. Evaporation for June to August 2018 was the highest on record for the basin.
Low rainfall, low humidity, high wind speeds, and high daytime temperatures resulted in high evaporation, below-average soil moisture, and low streamflows during winter.
However, Mr Joseph said the dry was not as strongly linked to climate change and dependant more on natural variability.
"You're always going have periods of heavy rainfall but there are links anywhere you want to look, it is all tied to those temperature anomalies,” he said.
The year started with a weak La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean but this short-lived event dissipated in February, having had relatively little effect on Australian rainfall patterns over summer.
Sadly, BOM's current three-month forecast shows much of the same.
"Over the next three months the chance of exceeding the median maximum temperature is about 80 per cent for pretty much the whole county,” Mr Joseph said.
"Exceeding the median average rainfall is about 30 per cent, so a low chance.
-Warwick and Stanthorpe were the coldest places in the state.
-Warwick was -10.6 on July 12 and Stanthorpe was -10.6 on June 23.
-Stanthorpe also recorded the third lowest temp at -9.4 on July 17.
-Wettest Warwick day: March 5 with 46mm
-Hottest Warwick day: February 13 at 40.1C