Australia experienced its soggiest summer in five years and its coolest in a span of nine years as La Niña shattered an eight-year hot stretch in the period 2020-21.
Showers received throughout the country were 29 percent above the long-standing average, making it the wettest summer in four years.
Victoria and South Australia recorded 14 percent more rainfall than their long-term average.
The Murray-Darling Basin recorded 13 percent above average rainfall; this was the highest since the 2011-12 La Niña summer.
Tasmania received rainfall that was 18 percent above average.
Western Australia recorded 54 percent more rainfall after several inland areas registered a good downpour than the average, thanks to a few tropical lows.
Rainfall received in the Northern Territory was 39 percent more this summer, consistent with a long-term pattern of wetter seasons within the Top End.
Queensland only received showers that were 8 percent above the average, making it the driest of them all.
Various parts in Queensland’s east didn’t experience the cooler and wetter summer as southern parts of Mackay recorded below-average falls and above-average temperatures.
The above-average rain highly contributed to the bumper harvest and Australia’s largest wheat crop and winter crop yields celebrated by farmers.
“La Niña cycles are really important in Australia for breaking droughts by bringing heavy, soaking rain,” noted Nerilie Abram a climatologist at the Australian National University.
Gaps in record run
This summer’s mean temperature across Australia was 0.06 degrees warmer than average, yet it was cooler compared to the last eight years after climate change fuelled the country’s four hottest summers ever recorded.
“It was it was 1.8 degrees Celsius colder this summer compared to last summer,” according to Simon Granger a senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.
“That’s quite a substantial change.”
Dr Abram explained that cooler temperatures were majorly driven by the heavy showers brought about by La Niña.
“When we’ve got a lot of rainfall and we’ve got lots of vegetation growth, lots of soil moisture, what that means is firstly there are a lot of clouds, so we don’t get as much solar energy,” she said.
“Energy that does arrive to the surface is able to cause evaporation which prevents the temperatures from getting as warm as they otherwise would.”
The southern states experienced a cooler summer with Victoria recording its lowest mean temperatures since the 2004/2005 period.
South Australia recorded its coolest mean temperatures since the 2001/2002 period.
A new norm
Dr Abram noted that El Niño and La Niña phases were strong enough to influence temperatures across the globe since oceans were absorbing all the excess heat.
“In a La Niña year, globally, the temperature will be a bit cooler compared to an El Niño year,” she stated.
Even with the presence of La Niña, January is considered the sixth hottest in the world from the time weather records began, according to a report shared by the Berkeley Earth environmental data science and climate monitoring service.
Mean temperatures in Australia were considered slightly higher than the long-term average despite it being the coolest summer on record in nine years.
“The effect of La Niña, in terms of being able to counteract the warming of the climate system, is becoming less and less,” Dr Abram concluded.
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