The Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology has just released the Annual Climate Statement for 2019 which makes sobering reading. A summary of the main Report findings are:
- 2019 was Australia's warmest year on record, with the annual national mean temperature 1.52 °C above the 1961-1990 average
- Both mean annual maximum and minimum temperatures were above average for all States and the Northern Territory
- Annual national mean maximum temperature warmest on record (2.09 °C above average)
- Widespread warmth throughout the year; January, February, March, April, July, October, and December all amongst the ten warmest on record for Australian mean temperature for their respective months
- Significant heatwaves in January and in December
- Australia's driest year on record from 110 years
- Nationally-averaged rainfall 40% below average for the year at 277.6 mm and 55% less for NSW with only 250.2 mm (the mean NSW rainfall is 450mm)
- Rainfall below average for most of Australia
- Much of Australia affected by drought, which was especially severe in New South Wales and southern Queensland
- Widespread severe fire weather throughout the year; national annual accumulated Forest Fire Danger Index highest since 1950, when national records began
- One of the strongest positive Indian Ocean Dipole events on record; El Nio-Southern Oscillation neutral throughout the year.
The 2019 Bureau Of Meteorology Report says "Heat continued to affect Australia until the end of the year, bringing repeated periods of severe fire weather to the south-eastern States. The frequency of extreme heat events has increased approximately fivefold since the 1950s. Research by the Bureau shows that climate change has contributed to an increased frequency and severity of extreme heat, heatwaves and elevated fire danger."
Strangely this very important report by Bureau Of Meterology has not been discussed by the Prime Minister or Ministers or promoted on social media as the belated Australian Defence Force call-out was and it appears the advice above (and previously) has been ignored.
For Kempsey (from Airport AWS), the mean maximum temperature for 2019 was 27 degrees which continues an increase over the past three years at least. The peak daily temp was 39.5 degrees on the 12th of February, which was less than the previous year, but fortunately nowhere near the horrendous record of 46.7 degrees on the 12th of February, 2017.
Rainfall recorded in 2019 at the Airport gauge was 368.8 mm, which is only 30 per cent of the mean annual rainfall (1217m) over 132 years for Kempsey.
This is the lowest recorded rainfall ever for Kempsey and easily eclipses the previous lowest annual rainfall of 497mm in 1902. Little wonder our Macleay River stopped running.
Councils, the RFS and different levels of Governments should be aware of the increasing effects of Climate Change and prepare for worse conditions to come.
Mike Dutton, Kempsey.