The Great Southern Railway, owned by Serco Asia Pacific, operates three trains: the Indian Pacific (Sydney-Adelaide-Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin), and The Overland (Melbourne-Adelaide). Data collected and analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology show that 2013 was Australia's warmest year on record while rainfall was slightly below average nationally. Note that all values in this statement are as compiled from data available on 2 January 2014. Annual rainfall was below average across a large region of the inland east centred on western Queensland and extending into northern South Australia and the Northern Territory. A negative phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) developed rapidly during late autumn, and remained in place through to the end of July before breaking down in early August. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) around Australia were unusually warm throughout the year, with the monthly anomalies for January and February the highest on record and that for November the second-highest on record. SSTs were consistently very much above average off the western and southern coast of Australia from summer 2012–13 until May. 2013 (January–November data) sea surface temperatures compared to historical records. Annual mean sea surface temperature anomalies in the Australian region (compared with 1961–1990 average). The Australian region warming is very similar to that seen at the global scale, and the past year emphasises that the warming trend continues. Drought conditions have affected large parts of Queensland away from the eastern coast, where rainfall has been below average since late 2012.
A strip on the central coast of Western Australia, between Learmonth and Morawa, also recorded below-average annual rainfall. Annual rainfall was substantially higher than average over much of the Pilbara and northern Interior districts of Western Australia, along the east coast between central Queensland and Sydney, in an area around Esperance on the central southern coast of Western Australia, and less significantly so in northern Tasmania, coastal Victoria and small areas of the tropical north and coastal South Australia. Australian monthly rainfall totals for 2013 (blue bars), compared to the historical average (black line). The most significant heat event of the year occurred in January (Special Climate Statement 43). Unusual warmth was recorded across much of Australia from the last week of August through September (Special Climate Statement 46).
Extreme heat developed over parts of Australia, particularly the eastern interior, during the last week of December. A record-warm and dry winter and an early spring saw early fire activity on the east coast, culminating in the most destructive fires in the Sydney region since at least 1968.
The remnants of tropical cyclone Oswald brought heavy rain to much of the east coast from 21 to 29 January.
A number of other flood events occurred during the remainder of the year, causing localised damage and interrupting transport links, but resulting in limited property inundation.
A cold front passed through northern Victoria and adjacent southern New South Wales on 21 March. There were numerous episodes of damaging winds in southern Australia in winter and spring, most associated with the passage of strong frontal systems. Supercell thunderstorms southwest of Brisbane on the night of 12 June caused property damage in Pratten and Bony Mountain, northwest of Warwick. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) produces an estimated global mean temperature by drawing on data from three global climate datasets maintained by the UK Met Office Hadley Centre (HadCRU3v), the US National Climatic Data Centre (blended GHCNv3 and ERSST3b) and the US Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISTEMP).
The Bureau is responsible for collecting, managing and safeguarding Australia's climate archive.
This statement has been prepared using the homogenised Australian temperature dataset, ACORN-SAT and high-quality rainfall data. Subsequent quality control and the availability of additional data may result in minor changes to final values. Mean temperatures across Australia have generally been well above average since September 2012. Rainfall was above average over parts of the Pilbara and the south coast of Western Australia, as well as along the east coast and northern Tasmania.
Temperatures were generally slightly below normal in the eastern equatorial Pacific, but remained within neutral thresholds for the entire 12 months. Mean and maximum temperatures were above average over nearly all of Australia and highest on record over large areas of inland and southern Australia.
For temperatures over land, the past ten years have been the equal-warmest on record while for sea surface temperatures the past ten years have been the warmest on record.
As summarised in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, recent warming trends have been dominated by the influence of increasing greenhouse gases and the enhanced greenhouse effect. Tasmania and Western Australia were the only States to record above-average annual totals, with all other States and the Northern Territory recording between 79 and 92 per cent of their long-term average rainfall. An extended national heatwave began over the southwest of the continent late in December 2012 before moving into southern and eastern Australia. Oswald, on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula near Kowanyama on 21 January, causing only minor wind-related impacts at landfall, but extensive flooding where the remnant low caused heavy rainfall.
None had any significant direct impact on mainland Australia, although storms associated with Narelle caused damage at Karlgarin in southwest Western Australia.
Alessia caused some localised flooding in the Top End and south of the Gulf of Carpentaria while Christine caused local flooding in the coastal northwest, generally minor wind damage, and power outages. Significant flooding occurred over most coastal catchments from Rockhampton to northern New South Wales, especially severe in the Burnett River catchment and around Bundaberg (Special Climate Statement 44).
Associated super-cell thunderstorms caused extensive damage and injuries, with at least 20 people requiring hospital attention. Several homogenised datasets have been developed from this archive to identify, monitor and attribute changes in the Australian climate.
Privately owned railways started the first lines, and struggled to succeed on a remote, huge, and sparsely populated continent, and government railways dominated.
Since the extension of the Ghan from Alice Springs to Darwin was completed in 2004, all mainland Australian capital cities are linked by standard gauge rail, for the first time. Melbourne has plans for a new train service branded as a metro, but as it will interact with the suburban system and won't be grade-separated from Footscray out, it will fall short of the criteria of a metro. Long periods of warmer-than-average days have been common, with a distinct lack of cold weather.
Temperatures were above average across nearly all of Australia for maximum, mean and minimum temperatures, with large areas of inland and southern Australia experiencing the highest on record for each. It was also the warmest year on record for South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Minimum temperatures were also highest on record for parts of the southern mainland, with only small areas near the eastern and northern coastline recording near-average minima. The heat was notable for its extent and duration, and was easily the longest continent-wide heatwave on record. Warm temperatures were widespread and prolonged, especially away from the coast; a number of national, state and territory records were set for the highest temperature recorded so early in the season. These records, and others set as the event continued into the first days of 2014, will be discussed in a forthcoming Special Climate Statement.
Rusty was large and slow-moving, bringing heavy rain and strong winds to coastal regions, resulting in major flooding in Pilbara catchments and the far western Kimberley with significant rainfall extending as far south as Esperance as the decaying storm travelled south. Peta made landfall near Karratha in Western Australia on 23 January, causing some local flooding in the Pilbara and closing Port Hedland to shipping.
Damage was also caused by a number of tornadoes in the Bundaberg area, and high winds and storm surges in coastal areas. Frequent heavy rain and generally above-average rainfall during the second half of 2013 led to further flooding in the northern half of Tasmania on multiple occasions during winter and spring.
Although the various colonies had been advised by London to choose a common gauge, the colonies ended up with different gauges. Plans for a "Euro-style" metro in Sydney have been shelved in favor of additional underground lines on the suburban network. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) also stayed within the neutral range for most of the year with only occasional, short-lived periods above +10 (a level which would, if sustained, be indicative of La Niña).
Areas of below-average annual rainfall extended into northern inland New South Wales, the eastern Northern Territory and northeastern South Australia. There were also storms and hail north of Perth on 16 November, causing significant agricultural losses. All other States ranked in the top four years: Queensland and New South Wales second, Victoria third and Tasmania fourth.
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