HOWEVER you look at it, the Hunter, along with the rest of Australia, is officially heating up.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement confirms the country recorded its hottest calendar year on record.
National average temperatures were 1.2 degrees above the long-term average of 21.8 degrees, breaking the record set in 2005 by 0.17degrees.
The Hunter region also broke its fair share of temperature records last year. Five new record highs – at Cessnock, Williamtown, Maitland, Lake Macquarie and Gosford – were set during a phenomenal heatwave on January 18.
Some of the records had been in place for more than 50 years.
Further records tumbled throughout winter when the Newcastle, Maitland and Cessnock trumped their highs by about half a degree.
On July 17, Newcastle recorded a high of 23degrees and Maitland 24degrees, both six degrees above the average high for the month.
Unseasonably high spring temperatures also contributed to bushfires in the region during October.
CSIRO climate-change modelling predicts Hunter temperatures will rise between one and three degrees over the next 40 years.
Inland parts of the Hunter, such as Scone and Muswellbrook, are more likely to experience higher temperatures as a result of climate change.
University of Melbourne climate scientist David Karoly said this year’s record temperatures were more remarkable because they did not occur in an El Nino year.
‘‘Analysis has been made of this temperature record using simulations with nine different climate models that represent well the natural variability of Australian average temperatures,’’ Professor Karoly said.
‘‘These indicate that greenhouse climate change vastly increased the odds of setting a new temperature record. In the model experiments, it is not possible to reach such a temperature record due to natural climate variations alone.’’
Griffith University emeritus professor of science Ian Lowe said the Bureau of Meteorology’s report confirmed what had been expected.
‘‘2013 was the hottest year on record for Australia, showing that there is no rational basis for the claim that warming has slowed in recent years,’’ he said. ‘‘The October bushfires in the Blue Mountains and the recent Queensland heatwave are reminders of the threat to Australia if present trends continue.
‘‘We have a clear responsibility to strengthen measures to reduce local greenhouse-gas production, especially the Renewable Energy Target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.’’
TOP HUNTER TEMPERATURES OF THE PAST 10 YEARS
45.5° Jerrys Plains PO Febuary 2, 2006
45° Cessnock Airport January 18, 2013
44.8° Williamtown RAAF January 18, 2013
44.8° Gosford (Narara Research Station) January 18, 2013
44.6° Paterson (Tocal AWS) February 21, 2004
44.6° Jerrys Plains PO January 12, 2007
44.5° Maitland Visitors Centre February 21, 2004
44.5° Maitland Visitors Centre January 18, 2013
44.5° Jerrys Plains PO February 21, 2004
44.4° Williamtown RAAF January 1, 2006
44.4° Paterson (Tocal AWS) January 18, 2013
Note: Jerrys Plains PO closed last year. Source: Bureau of Meteorology