Issued: Friday, 8 January 2021
Annual Climate Statement 2020: Australia's fourth-warmest year on record, with below average rainfall for parts of Queensland and Western Australia
The Annual Climate Statement is the Bureau's official summary of the previous year, providing information on temperature, rainfall and significant weather.
The year 2020 was the fourth-warmest year on record for Australia, with the nation's area-averaged mean temperature for the year 1.15 °C above the 1961–1990 average.
Mean annual maximum and minimum temperatures were above average for all states and the Northern Territory.
While rainfall for 2020 was close to average overall, easing drought conditions in many areas, some regions received below average rainfall, including the west of Western Australia, southeastern Queensland, and western Tasmania.
In the Murray–Darling Basin, southern water storages saw significant increases during 2020 – rising from 36.8% in March 2020 to 68.8% at the end of November. In the northern Basin water storage levels also increased from a record low of 5.4% to around 25% at the end of December.
Senior Climatologist Dr Lynette Bettio, said that: "The mean temperature for the 10 years from 2011 to 2020 was the highest on record, at 0.94 °C above average, and 0.33 °C warmer than the previous 10 years.
"Rainfall for Australia was close to average for the nation as a whole at 483.4 mm: 4% above the 1961–1990 average of 466.0 mm."
Annual rainfall was above average across large parts of New South Wales, parts of South Australia between the Flinders Ranges and Lake Eyre / Kati Thanda, much of northern and eastern Western Australia and much of the Northern Territory. Flooding impacted eastern Australia during February and March, particularly through Queensland and New South Wales.
Daytime temperatures were especially warm for Sydney, Hobart, and Darwin. The annual mean maximum temperature was above average for Perth, Canberra, and Brisbane; close to average at most sites across greater Adelaide; and close to average or slightly below average in Melbourne.
All of the capital cities, except Adelaide, observed warmer than average annual mean minimum temperatures. Nights were especially warm in Sydney, Darwin, Hobart, Canberra, and Brisbane.
Dr Bettio said: "Globally, every year from 2013 onwards has been among the ten warmest on record, with 2016 and 2019 being the hottest (0.85 ± 0.1 °C and 0.81 ± 0.1 °C above the 1961–1990 average respectively) and 2020 was among the top three, despite the onset of La Niña which has a suppressing effect on global temperatures."
Australia had its warmest spring on record in 2020.
Climate summaries for each state and territory can be found at
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