Australia has its warmest ever calendar year - - temperatures in October were 1.43˚C above the long-term average and more than 100 heat-related records broken in the past 12 months, according to a new report.
The Climate Council study, called Off the Charts, says that the country has just had its warmest ever 12-month period, from 1 November 2012 to 31 October 2013. This is the third month in a row that this 12-month temperature record has been broken.
The report, drawn from Bureau of Meteorology data, states that the past 12 months have been, on average, 0.22˚C warmer than any other equivalent period prior to 2013, making it likely that 2013 will be Australia's warmest ever calendar year.
October saw a continuation of this trend, being 1.43˚C warmer than the average set between 1961 and 1990. The month was notable for widespread bushfires in NSW, which triggered a fierce debate over whether climate change made such blazes more likely, with Tony Abbott finding himself at odds with the United Nation's climate chief.
The Climate Council, which was abolished as a public body by the Coalition government in September before being resurrected through public donations, said the heat in October was felt across the country.
"We've got to put the last 12 months into the context of the last half century," Prof. Will Steffen of the Climate Council told Guardian Australia. "The number of hot days has more than doubled since the 1950s and 1960s and the number of cold days have gone down.
"This longterm warming trend is skewing the temperatures we are seeing. September and October this year are consistent with the fact that while we still have variability, the dice is now loaded towards warmer weather.
"Lots of people sense that our climate is fundamentally shifting. You talk to fishermen who see fish they have not seen in the waters before, you look at the migration patterns of birds and bats we've not seen before, and so on. People ask 'what's going on?' and that's when we look at the data and see what's happened in the past half century."
The Climate Council's report has been timed for the start of United Nations climate talks in Warsaw, which won't have an Australian ministerial presence for the first time since the Kyoto accord was struck in 1997.