The heat is on

The hottest temperatures recorded in the last century in Australia were in the 90s

Published: Tuesday 15 February 2000

The last decade of the 20th century was the warmest recorded in Australia. Figures released recently from the National Climate Centre show that temperatures have climbed steadily across the continent since 1940. The average temperature in the 1990s was 22.14C, compared with the long-term average of 21.81C. The warmest year since high-quality records became available in 1910 was 1998 when the annual mean was 22.54C.

While the decade-by-decade temperature rise appears slight at 0.22C for the 1980s and 0.33C for the 1990s, Paul Della-Marta, a climate scientist, said it was significant because the decades before 1980 were cooler overall than the long-term average. One of the reasons for the warming, he said was the greenhouse effect. The 1990s were the warmest decade globally since instrumental measurement began in the 1860s. Seven of the warmest years were in the last decade, with the remaining three occurring in the 1980s.

Global mean temperatures at the turn of the 20th century were almost 0.7C higher than at the turn of the 19th century. Australia experienced a rise of 0.8C over the past 90 years. Last year was the 21st consecutive year with a global temperature above normal.

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