Asia - Pacific

2019 'warmest' for bushfire-battling Australia

Mean temperature since 2010 to 2019 was highest on record, says country's meteorology department

Rıyaz Khalıq   | 09.01.2020
2019 'warmest' for bushfire-battling Australia The Australian Department of Defence shows a fire in the distance seen from the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Adelaide ship off the coast in Eden in New South Wales, as part of bushfire relief operations. ( AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE / Handout - Anadolu Agency )


Australia witnessed its "warmest year on record" in 2019, apparently causing the ongoing bushfires across the country, Canberra said Thursday.  

"The mean temperature for the 10 years from 2010 to 2019 was the highest on record, at 0.86 °C [1.5F] above average, and 0.31 °C warmer than the 10 years 2000–2009," the country's meteorology bureau said in a statement.

Australia is witnessing deadly bushfires estimated to have killed 1.25 billion animals with over 20 million acres of land burned.

At least 25 people lost their lives while battling the heavy blazes that erupted last August, causing millions of dollars in damages.

New South Wales and South Australia were the most affected regions, as local governments declared emergencies and closed schools to avoid casualties.

"It was the warmest year on record for New South Wales and Western Australia as a whole, and amongst the ten warmest years for the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia," the statement said.

The country's average temperature for 2019 was 1.52 °C above the 1961-1990 average, well above the old record: +1.33 °C in 2013. "All capital cities were warmer and drier than average in 2019," it added.

It said rainfall for 2019 was "below to very much below average over most of Australia".

"Much of northeastern New South Wales and southeastern Queensland, pastoral South Australia, the central and southern Northern Territory, and southeastern Western Australia received their lowest annual totals on record," it noted.

The statement said the second half of the year had been particularly dry across most of the southern half of the country following several years of below-average rainfall over parts of Queensland and New South Wales.

"Warm and windy conditions during spring to early summer led to repeated periods of severe fire weather, with very large bushfires affecting eastern Australia from September, with many fires continuing to burn after the end of the year," it added.

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