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Published: 9 March 2011

BOM statement confirms cool 2010 but hottest decade

Craig Macaulay

The Bureau of Meteorology’s annual Australian Climate Statement for 2010 concluded that the 2010 La Niña event brought Australia’s third-wettest year on record and the country’s coolest year since 2001; however, the decade 2001–2010 was Australia’s warmest.

Satellite view of heavy rainfall over south-east Queensland, December 2010.
Satellite view of heavy rainfall over south-east Queensland, December 2010.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The Bureau found that the Australian mean rainfall total for 2010 was well above the long-term average. Eleven months of the year experienced above average rainfall, an occurrence observed only once previously, in 1973. The second half of the year (July to December) was the wettest on record for Australia. Unusually heavy falls were experienced in Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and South Australia.

However, south-west Western Australia had its driest year on record – continuing the long drying trend, which extends back to the late 1960s – and Tasmania had near to average rainfall for the year, the result of a dry first six months followed by a relatively wet second six months.

Daily minimum temperatures during 2010 were above normal, while maximum temperatures were below normal. In contrast with 2009, days with extreme high temperatures were scarce.

Following the pattern observed over land, 2001–2010 was also the warmest decade on record for sea surface temperatures.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed in January that 2010 tied with 2005 and 1998 as being the hottest years on record. It also confirmed that the first ten years of the millennium was the hottest decade since climate records began. A cooler-than-average global mean temperature has not been recorded since 1985.

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