The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has said in its annual report that warmer than average temperatures across Australia in 2015 confirmed the dominant influence of El Nino on the country’s climate,
The report found that 2015 ranked as the fifth warmest on record in Australia, acting assistant director for climate information services Dr Scott Power said.
The bureau declared an El Nino in early May and it went on to develop into the most significant El Nino in nearly two decades, Dr Power said.
The report also noted rainfall was well below average across several areas of Australia, including a large area of inland Queensland, where, after three consecutive poor wet seasons, long-term drought continued.
It also made note of other significant weather events, including a cold snap in July that saw snowfalls across much of eastern Australia.
Recent bushfires along Victoria’s Surf Coast were among several significant blazes seen across the country in 2015.
Professor Will Steffen a member of the Climate Council and former director of the ANU Climate Change Institute said; “Perhaps most striking in the statement is the long-term trend of global mean temperature, where 2015 is very likely to be the warmest since records began in 1880, and by a very large margin.”
Dr Sophie Lewis a Research Fellow at The Australian National University and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science commented; “Our research from 2015 shows that record-breaking hot temperatures over the last 15 years outnumber new cold records by a factor of 12-to-1.
“This dramatic increase in hot records in recent years is not random; it is linked to human-caused climate change.
“Combined with strong El Nino conditions, we should be prepared for hot conditions to continue in Australia in 2016.”
At the same time Professor Kevin Parton from the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University said the data meant climate change was back on the urgent list in Australia and he predicted the conservative Liberal-National government would be forced to re-introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
“Most economic analysis shows that an emissions trading scheme (ETS) is the most efficient, least-cost policy, so that economic pressure will encourage its adoption.
“Also, an ETS is the international standard. Every country that is seriously tackling carbon emissions has an ETS
“Moreover, it would be counterproductive for Australia not to be a full participant in the international carbon market,” Professor Parton added.