ANNUAL AUSTRALIAN CLIMATE STATEMENT 2001

Statement issued 3rd January 2002

Australia has been wetter than normal over the past year but the average temperature has been close to normal. Preliminary data indicate that the total rainfall for 2001 averaged across Australia was 553 mm, significantly above the long-term average of 457 mm but well short of the record of 784 mm in 1974. The average temperature over Australia during 2001 was 0.09 °C below the 1961–90 normal.

Rainfall

The above normal rainfall was largely restricted to the western two-thirds of the continent with a very wet 2000/01 summer in the north and west, and Central Australia receiving very much above average rainfall during autumn and winter. On the other hand, much of eastern Australia experienced a dry 2001. Extremely dry conditions were experienced in the southwest corner, with record low autumn and early winter rains.

The Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre calculates Australia's average rainfall value from a representative network of around 5000 rainfall stations, most of which are staffed by volunteer observers.

Australian total rainfall timeseries
Australian total rainfall (mm) averaged across Australia for each year since 1900.


2001 Australian rainfall deciles map
Rainfall map comparing rainfall during 2001 with the long-term rainfall distribution.

Temperature

For the third consecutive year, the all-Australian mean temperature was close to the 1961–90 normal, being 0.09 °C below normal in 2001. Maximum and minimum temperatures anomalies were 0.02 °C and −0.19 °C respectively. Generally the east of the continent experienced warmer than normal temperatures during 2001, with the wetter central and western parts reporting cooler than normal temperatures.

Annual Australian mean temperature timeseries
Annual temperature departures from 1961–90 mean (normal) averaged across Australia. Note that good quality temperature records prior to 1910 are too sparse to calculate a reliable all-Australian average.


Click on the links to see time series of Australian mean maximum and minimum temperatures.

The mean temperature was calculated from a network of about 120 non-urban observing stations throughout Australia. The temperature records at these sites have been adjusted for discontinuities caused by changes in instrumentation and location. Many of the sites are included in Australia's Reference Climate Station network – a special network established to monitor long-term climate trends and variability.

Compared with recent decades, the Australian annual mean temperature for the past three years has been relatively cool. Despite this, mean Australian temperatures show a general rise during the 20th century, in line with global temperatures. According to a preliminary estimate released by the World Meteorological Organization on 18 December 2001, the global mean temperature for 2001 was the second warmest on record (since 1861), with Australia being one of a few regions that was not above normal. Global temperature analyses are made possible through the World Meteorological Organization's policy of free and unrestricted exchange of international climate data.

2001 mean temperature anomaly map
Map of mean temperature anomalies across Australia during 2001.