Australia's Summer Is Hottest on Record

LiveScience.com

Australia's summer of 2013 is the hottest on record so far, the country's Bureau of Meteorology announced today (March 1).

The country's average temperature this summer has been 83.5 degrees Fahrenheit (28.6 degrees Celsius), 2 degrees F (1 degree C) above normal. That breaks the previous summer temperature record, set in the summer of 1997 to 1998, by 0.18 degree F (0.1 degree C).

Summertime in the Southern hemisphere runs during wintertime in the Northern hemisphere. Australia defines the season based on the meteorological definition, in which summer begins on Dec. 1 and ends on the last day of February.

A widespread and prolonged heat wave drove temperatures up for three weeks in January, with the hottest temperature during that period peaking at a whopping 121.3 degrees F (49.6 degrees C) in Moomba in South Australia. That heat wave contributed to massive wildfires, with 130 burning in New South Wales alone as of Jan. 8.

Records were also set in Sydney, which hit 114.4 degrees F (45.8 degrees C), and Hobart in Tasmania, which got up to 107.2 degrees F (41.8 degrees C). According to the Bureau, of the 112 locations used for long-term climate monitoring, 14 had their hottest day on record during the summer of 2012-2013. [The Harshest Environments on Earth]

The country also experienced the highest recorded number of consecutive days the average maximum daily temperature exceeded 102. 2 degrees F (39 degrees C). That occurred over seven days between Jan. 2 and Jan. 8, beating out 1973's record of four days.

With all the heat came little moisture. Summer rainfall was at its lowest since 2004-2005, with Victoria recording its driest summer since 1984-1985.

Australia didn't swelter alone. December and January were the hottest on record for land areas in the Southern Hemisphere. Temperatures in Patagonia, Chile, were more than 7.2 degrees F (4 degrees C) above normal in January, while much of southern Africa reported its hottest temperatures on record that month.

Australia's hot summer and dangerous wildfires echo the pain of previous years. In February 2009, a heat wave hit the province of Victoria, bringing scalding temperatures and no moisture for weeks. On Feb. 7, about 400 wildfires burned through Victoria, killing 173 people and earning the date the moniker "Black Saturday."

Meanwhile, other parts of the world have experienced their own miserable summers. The first five months of 2012 were the hottest on record for the contiguous United States, and things only got worse in July, when a heat wave tied or set daily records in every state. In total, the month set 2,755 highest maximum temperatures and 6,171 highest minimum (nighttime) temperatures.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas or LiveScience @livescience. We're also on Facebook Google+.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
View Comments (122)

Recommended for You

  • Hurricane-strength winds batter northern Europe, hit travel

    Hurricane-force winds lashed parts of northern Europe on Tuesday, causing a death in Germany, flights to be canceled, disrupting some road and train traffic and hitting port operations. The Dutch meteorological office issued a code red warning for the low-lying country's northern and coastal…

    Reuters
  • United States submits formal plan for Paris climate talks

    By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday formally submitted its climate change strategy to the United Nations, outlining domestic measures it is taking to achieve up to a 28 percent greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2025. The submission lays out how the United States…

    Reuters
  • Air and sea traffic disrupted as 120 km winds batter Netherlands

    Spring storms battered the Netherlands with gusts of up to 120 kilometers an hour on Tuesday, causing Amsterdam's Schiphol airport to cancel flights and the closure of two container terminals at the port of Rotterdam. Gale force winds sweeping in from the North Sea disrupted land and marine…

    Reuters
  • Heavy rains trigger flood fears in Kashmir; 17 dead

    By Fayaz Bukhari SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Heavy rains and a landslide in the Himalayan region of Kashmir killed 17 people, police said on Tuesday, as Indian authorities continued working to rescue stranded villagers, with unseasonal rains raising fears of flash floods in the mountainous north. …

    Reuters
  • Ocean warming suggests 50 percent chance of El Nino-Australia

    By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Recent warming of the Pacific Ocean may signal an El Nino weather event is forming, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday. Climate models indicate the central tropical Pacific Ocean is likely to continue to warm, with El Nino thresholds to be…

    Reuters
  • Vanuatu risks long-term food insecurity after monster cyclone: U.N.

    By Alisa Tang BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The monster cyclone that hit Vanuatu earlier this month wiped out more than 90 percent of the archipelago's crops, putting its people at risk of a secondary emergency and long-term food insecurity, the United Nations warned on Monday. Tropical…

    Reuters
  • Heavy rains trigger flood fears in Kashmir; six dead

    By Fayaz Bukhari SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - A landslide in the Himalayan region of Kashmir killed six people and left 10 missing, police said on Monday, as unseasonal rains swept India, damaging crops and raising fears of flash floods in the mountainous north. Hundreds of people fled their homes…

    Reuters
  • Harsh weather cripples fishing and tourism on Cameroon's coast

    By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame KRIBI, Cameroon (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For over 15 years, Raoul Meno has been fishing the waters off the coastal town of Kribi in southern Cameroon. A bout of persistent heavy rains and surging tides this year has made fishing in Kribi increasingly difficult and…

    Reuters
  • Air Canada plane landed short, hit antennas in Halifax accident

    By Mark Blinch HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - An Air Canada plane that suffered heavy damage in an accident in the east coast city of Halifax on Sunday landed short of the runway and hit an antenna array, losing its landing gear, safety officials said. "They touched down 1,100 feet (335 meters)…

    Reuters
  • U.S. to submit plans to fight global warming; most others delay

    By Alister Doyle and Valerie Volcovici OSLO/WASHINGTON - The United States will submit plans for slowing global warming to the United Nations early this week but most governments will miss an informal March 31 deadline, complicating work on a global climate deal due in December. The U.S.…

    Reuters
  • Modi's popularity in rural India punctured by discontent, suicides

    By Mayank Bhardwaj VAIDI, India (Reuters) - Over a dozen debt-laden farmers have committed suicide in recent weeks in India, and discontent in many rural areas against government policies is turning into anger against Prime Minister Narendra Modi less than a year after he swept into office. …

    Reuters
  • Chile desert rains sign of climate change: chief weather scientist

    By Rosalba O'Brien SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The heavy rainfall that battered Chile's usually arid north this week happened because of climate change, a senior meteorologist said, as the region gradually returns to normal after rivers broke banks and villages were cut off. "For Chile, this particular…

    Reuters
  • Mexico unveils national strategy for Paris climate talks

    By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexico on Friday said it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, becoming one of the first countries to formally submit its national climate plan to the United Nations ahead of a climate summit in Paris in December. Mexico's Foreign and…

    Reuters
  • Fed must take account of global economy in U.S. outlook: Yellen

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve must take the global economy into account when judging the U.S. domestic outlook, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday, noting that a stronger dollar buoyed by weakness abroad may restrain U.S. exports Still, she added, U.S. consumer…

    Reuters
  • In reversal, crash-hit Lufthansa agrees to two-crew in cockpit rule

    Lufthansa said on Friday it would introduce new rules requiring two crew members in cockpits at all times, a swift reversal after its CEO said such a change was not needed despite the crash at its Germanwings subsidiary. The European Union said it would now advise all EU airlines to require two…

    Reuters
  • Sierra Leone capital 'eerily quiet' amid Ebola lockdown

    By Umaru Fofana FREETOWN (Reuters) - The capital of Sierra Leone was "eerily quiet" on Friday at the start of a three-day national lockdown aimed at accelerating the end of an Ebola epidemic in the worst affected country. Liberia has just one known case left and the three countries have set a…

    Reuters
  • Lufthansa to toughen up cockpit rules

    Lufthansa said it will introduce new rules requiring two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times after one of the pilots at its Germanwings unit crashed a plane in the French Alps. Prosecutors believe Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked himself alone in the cockpit of the Airbus A320 on Tuesday and…

    Reuters
  • Poland to charge two Russian officials over Kaczynski plane crash

    Poland said on Friday it would bring charges against two Russian air traffic controllers over a 2010 plane crash which killed then Polish president Lech Kaczynski, a move likely to damage bilateral relations already strained by the Ukraine crisis. Prosecutor Ireneusz Szelag from the District…

    Reuters
  • Drought, warm weather bring 'smog day' memories in California

    By Sharon Bernstein KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (Reuters) - The brown haze over California's San Joaquin Valley breadbasket on some winter days has been an unwelcome reminder of the bad old days, when pollution hung so thickly that people were warned to stay inside. Years of tight environmental rules…

    Reuters
  • India turns to 'satellite god' for crop mapping

    By Ratnajyoti Dutta NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Sher Singh, a farmer from India's desert state of Rajasthan, prays to Varuna, the Hindu god of water, for a bountiful harvest. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to promote a "per drop, more crop" approach to farming to make better use of scarce water,…

    Reuters