1996 - Another warm year over most of Australia
Media Release, 10 January, 1997
The average temperature over Australia during 1996 was the fifth highest on record.
The Acting Director of Meteorology, Dr Doug Gauntlett, said the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre calculated that the average temperature was 0.46 C above the average for the 1961 to 1990 reference period
It was 0.65 C above the average for 1910 to 1996 - the period for which comprehensive Australian data are available
Warm temperatures were not uniform over the continent with the warmest conditions across the subtropics, particularly in winter. The southeast was cooler than normal for much of the year
. Dr Gauntlett said that "recent years have been exceptionally warm with more than half of the top 20 warmest years since 1910 coming in the 1980s or 1990s. Australia's warmest year was in 1988 where temperatures were around 0.7 C above the 1961-90 average. A feature of the warming trend over Australia, and much of the world's land areas during the second half of the century, has been a tendency for overnight minimum temperatures to have increased more than daytime maximum temperatures. In 1996, overnight temperatures (+0.5 C) again contributed a little more than the daytime temperatures (+0.4 C) to the warm average".
Dr Gauntlett noted that "the above average temperature experienced by Australia in 1996 is expected to be consistent with the globally averaged temperature record where observations from land and ocean have been combined". Preliminary data from the UK Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit suggest that 1996 will be in the top ten warmest years since 1861, when global average temperatures were first available.
The Australian analysis was based on high quality temperature records jointly developed by the Bureau and the University of Melbourne. Many of the 105 sites were from the Bureau's Australian Reference Climate Stations - part of a worldwide network established to monitor climate change.
Below is a graph showing the variations from average temperature over Australia since 1910
Below is a map showing the variations from average temperature over Australia during 1996.