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Hotter, wetter… 2023 weather a record-breaker

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If you thought last year was barmier than average, you’d be right. 

In 2023, Australia’s national mean temperature was 0.98 °C warmer than the 1961–1990 average.  

In fact, both the mean annual maximum and minimum temperatures were above average for all states and territories.

It was the country’s equal eighth-warmest year since temperature records began and warmest since 2020.  

And, when it comes to rainfall, the nation was wetter than ever, with 2023 recorded rainfall 1.6% above the 1961–1990 average – although it didn’t fall evenly across the continent, with some parts receiving well below average rainfall. 

rainfall, climate change
Weather: Severe rainfall caused havoc on Hunter roads in 2023.

Between August and October 2023, Australia experienced its driest three-month period since rainfall records began in 1900.

Yet, despite the decrease, Australia’s total surface water storage volume remained high at the end of 2023, with 74.1% of its accessible capacity. 

So, what is to blame for the extreme climate?

Some of 2023’s weather was influenced by La Niña, with El Niño a close second. 

High temperatures in the Tasman Sea likely contributed to above average rainfall across eastern Australia in the latter part of 2023.  

Notable weather events in 2023 include impacts from tropical cyclones Ellie, Ilsa and Jasper; intense, persistent rainfall leading to flooding in some areas; frequent heatwaves; and dry conditions contributing to bushfire weather. 

Since national records began in 1910, Australia’s climate has warmed around 1.50 ± 0.23 °C. 

Globally, it was the warmest year in the history books, with warm oceans since April and record low Antarctic sea ice extent for much of the year.

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