2011 Annual Climate Summary - Bureau of Meteorology Media Release

Feb 22, 2012 - 11:30am

The 2011 Annual Climate Summary from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) released yesterday confirms that Australia’s climate is changing rapidly.

Climate change is mixing with Australia’s normally moody climate; droughts are becoming hotter and the flooding rains heavier. 

If you want to a hint of what life in a more hostile climate looks like, Australia has had it in spades in the last several years. 

The global climate is not waiting for Australia to act. While politicians squabble and vested interests consciously try to confuse and deceive the public, the fact is the physical environment is changing.

Key points from the BOM 2011 Summary and elsewhere include:

  • Australia has been warming over the last century, more or less in step with global warming—by more than 0.7 degrees Celsius.
  • 2011 was the first cooler-than-average year since 2001 for Australia as a whole, but southern Australia was still warmer than average, with overnight minimum temperatures in south-western Australia and South Australia the highest on record, and heat waves in parts of the country.
  • Globally, 2010 and 2011 were the warmest La Niña years on record. For Australia, the 2010–2011 La Niña was one of the strongest on record, with the two years together bringing the heaviest rainfall on record, flooding extraordinarily large parts of the country’s north and east.
  • In fact, so much water was dumped on the land that sea levels—which have been steadily rising with global warming—dropped momentarily.
  • The decade leading up to 2010 was one of the driest in Australian history, with much of the country in the grip of drought and soaring temperatures; a cocktail that fuelled the deadly 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria.
  • Despite the extremely wet years, average winter and autumn rainfall in the south-east and south-west has fallen by 10 to 20 per cent since 1996 and 1970 respectively.
  • The Bureau says that, for Australia, the last decade was the equal hottest on record. For the world, it was the hottest on record, according to NASA, The UK Met Office, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Annual Climate Summary for 2011 can be downloaded below. 
Additional information is available in BOM’s Special Climate Statement 38 available here.

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