Rain brings relief but 2020 still the fourth hottest year on record

SES crew members in a small boat, sailing through flood waters in a suburban area.
8 January 2021

Australia had its fourth-warmest year on record in 2020, according to climatologists at the Bureau of Meteorology.

However, the late arrival of La Nina weather conditions — which are generally cooler than El Nino and other years — made it difficult to compare 2020 with previous La Nina years, the bureau said in its annual climate statement.

The switch from the El Nino weather system — which drove the hot, dry conditions and bushfires in 2019 and early 2020 — to La Nina resulted in lower temperatures and above-average rainfall towards the end of 2020, the bureau’s head of operational climate services, Andrew Watkins, said.

“Particularly in the first half of the past century, the La Nina years were cooler than average,” Dr Watkins said. “As we got into the latter part (of the century), we started to see La Nina years warmer than average.”

Read the full article on The Australian website, featuring Prof Nerilie Abram