New BOM figures show how Australia has warmed; 2017 is third-warmest year

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Sydney temp
A couple shade themselves from the sun under an umbrella on a hot day in Sydney November 20, 2009. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

The year 2017 was Australia's third-warmest year on record, it has been confirmed. The country recorded temperatures nearly a degree above the 1961 to 1990 average.

The Bureau of Meteorology's annual report shows that Australia’s area-averaged mean temperatures were 0.95 degrees above its 1961-90 baseline, which was at 22.75 degrees. Only 2013 and 2005 were hotter years since 1910.

Weather lovers took notes from the Annual Climate Statement with a rundown of 2017 climate drivers, temperatures and significant weather events. Out of the 10 warmest years on record, seven have been recorded since 2005. Just one year was under the 1961 to 1990 average in the past ten years.

Although there was no El Niño, which is normally associated with warm temperatures, the past year was still among the warmest on record. Notching their hottest annual readings are New South Wales and Queensland.

It was the fifth-warmest year for South Australia. It was the sixth-warmest in Victoria. For Tasmania, it was the equal-10th warmest. Daytime temperatures were specifically warm, coming in as the second-warmest at 1.27 degrees above average.

The latest figures show how the Down Under has warmed, according to BOM head of climate monitoring Karl Braganza. "We have seen that warming across the land surface temperatures and in the ocean surrounding Australia, so they have both warmed by a similar amount and that's consistent with global warming as well," he said.

The hot days were not only felt on land as the ocean dealt with warm temperatures too. The year 2017 saw record-warm ocean temperatures, particularly on the east coast and around Tasmania.

In the oceans, the hot temperatures resulted in a mass coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef. It is not the first time a bleaching event occurred though as there was one in 2016. The two consecutive years recorded the first time Australia saw two mass bleaching events two summers in a row.

Braganza noted that in the oral tradition, they have not seen back-to-back bleaching events. He recognised that mass bleaching events were not recorded prior to the 1980s.

Weather forecast

The bureau has forecasted cooler than average 2018 start.  The South West and Perth should remain relatively dry and warm.

According to Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Michael Efron, it would feel cooler around the bay with light sea breezes. On Thursday, the beach is expected to be at a glorious top of 34C.

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