Australia experiences hottest winter in history

CANBERRA — Australia has endured its hottest winter in history with temperatures up 2 degrees Celsius on average, a report has found.

The Hot and Dry: Australia’s Weird Winter report, released by the Climate Council on Tuesday, found that the average maximum temperature in Australia from June through August was 0.3 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record, set in 2009.

In July alone, 72 records were broken for a region’s highest-ever winter temperature including in Sydney which set a record of 26.5 Celsius.

“The average maximum temperature for Australia this winter was 23.7 Celsius, 1.9 Celsius above the ‎1961-1990 average (21.8 Celsius),” David Alexander, a scientist from the Climate Council, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

In addition to the unseasonal warmth, the country also experienced its driest June in history and its driest winter since 2002.

It marks the 10th time since the year 2000 that Australia has set a new record for seasonal maximum temperatures; a trend Alexander said was set to continue.

“Unfortunately, Australia’s winters are becoming much, much warmer due to worsening climate change. As a result, this trend will continue as Australia’s pollution levels continue to rise. Since 1990, 90 percent of Australian winters have been above average for maximum temperatures,” he said.

“Our warm winter was made 60 times more likely because of climate change.

“Australia must do its fair share in reducing pollution levels globally, by moving away from aging, expensive and polluting fossil fuel energy, and continuing to transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technologies.”

The Climate Council warned that dry conditions meant that much of the country was at high risk of a severe bush-fire season this upcoming summer.

The east coast of Australia endured a record dry spell between June 1 and the end of August, the report found, with parts of the country receiving just 12 percent of its average monthly rainfall.

“The dry, warm winter conditions have led to approximately one-third of Australia having above normal bushfire conditions this bushfire season,” Alexander said.

“Particular areas of concern are in Australia’s south and east, including South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, as well as New South Wales, where bushfire season has started early.”