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The weather authority, which last year introduced new colors on its temperature scale to cater for more extreme highs, said the Australian warming was very similar to that seen on the global scale. “And the past year emphasizes that the warming trend continues,” it said. This year is also starting warmly, with records already under threat in some Outback towns. In Moomba in northern South Australia, the temperature topped 48 degrees Celsius on Thursday. The highest temperature ever recorded in Australia was 50.7 Celsius in Oodnadatta in 1960.
Sarah Perkins, a climate system science researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said the report confirmed that the impacts of global warming were starting to be felt.
University of Melbourne climate scientist David Karoly said the record high average temperature was remarkable because it did not occur in an “El Nino” year, when conditions in Australia are usually drier and warmer. He said that in climate modelling experiments conducted so far it was not possible to reach such a temperature record due to natural climate variations alone.
Ian Lowe, emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Queensland’s Griffith University and president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the report confirmed expectations. “2013 was the hottest year on record for Australia, showing that there is no rational basis for the claim that warming has slowed in recent years,” he said.