Spring 2013: Australia’s warmest spring on record

The spring of 2013 has been Australia’s warmest on record. Mean temperatures for the season were 1.57°C above the 1961–1990 average, surpassing the previous record of 1.43°C (set in 2006) by 0.14°C. Daytime maximum temperatures were also the highest on record, coming in 2.07°C above average and 0.24°C above the previous record (also set in 2006). Overnight minimum temperatures were the fourth-warmest on record with an anomaly of +1.07°C.

As described previously (see Australia’s warmest 12-month period on record) the warmth was most significant in September, which saw a mean temperature anomaly of +2.75°C, setting a new monthly record by more than a degree. At 1.43°C above average, October was also a very warm month. Temperatures during November were 0.52°C above average – the smallest temperature anomaly since August 2012 – but warm enough to complete a record spring.

The spring warmth was extensive, with virtually the entire country experiencing above-average mean temperatures. It was the warmest spring on record over an area covering much of Queensland (sufficient to give Queensland its warmest spring on record), and extending into the eastern interior of the Northern Territory. Records were also set on the west coast around Perth and on parts of the Nullarbor.

Australian temperatures have warmed by about 1° C since 1910, with the warming being fastest during spring. In this context, the recent record warm spring is consistent with the established warming trend. The degree of warmth reflects a combination of factors including global warming, dry conditions affecting much of central and eastern Australia and unusually strong westerly winds.

September to November 2013 mean temperature deciles for Australia showing spring temperatures were the highest on record for 14% of Australia.

September to November 2013 mean temperature deciles for Australia showing spring temperatures were the highest on record for 14% of Australia.

The Remainder of 2013

Monthly mean temperature anomalies for September 2012 to November 2013

Monthly mean temperature anomalies for September 2012 to November 2013.

Mean temperatures for Australia for the 11 months ending in November were 1.25°C above average and 0.20°C above the previous record year, in 2005. In other words, conditions in 2013 continue to be much warmer than any previous calendar year.

The current seasonal outlook suggests strong shifts toward warmer than average temperatures, implying that it is very likely that 2013 will go on to be Australia’s hottest year on record.

The Bureau will issue a complete summary of the Climate of 2013 on 3 January 2014 in the Australian Annual Climate Statement.

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