2021 is the world's fifth hottest year on record

While Australia might have seen its coolest year in almost a decade in 2021, the world saw another warm one, making it the fifth hottest year on recorded.

Data from the European Union's (EU) satellite system found the past seven years have been the hottest ever recorded.

Levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere hit new highs in 2021.

The EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a report on Monday the last seven years were the world's warmest "by a clear margin" in records dating back to 1850 and the average global temperature in 2021 was 1.1-1.2C above 1850-1900 levels.

The hottest years on record were 2020 and 2016.

It's in stark contrast to Australia's 2021. In November rainfall reached record levels with the year the wettest since 2016, with states receiving rainfall up to 30 per cent above average thanks to unprecedented showers late last year.

Fires and floods. Photos: File

Fires and floods. Photos: File

The rainfall was influenced by the impacts of a negative Indian Ocean Dipole - a period of warmer than usual temperatures in the western Indian ocean - and La Nina, cooling of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, said Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Dr Simon Grainger.

Across the ditch and things were very different with New Zealand recording its hottest year on record.

New Zealand's average temperature in 2021 was 13.56C, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's Annual Climate Summary, released on Tuesday.

Using the World Meteorological Organisation's benchmark, the year was 1.09 degrees above average, showing disturbing evidence of a warming climate.

Doctors for the Environment chairman Dr John Van Der Kallen said doctors were seeing the effects of heat on their patients in surgeries and emergency departments.

"Higher temperatures result in deaths, and a variety of illnesses - including worsening heart conditions, mental health conditions, and pregnancy complications. Further rises in temperature will have devastating consequences for the health of our families and communities," Mr Van Der Kallen said.

"Despite the necessary focus on addressing COVID-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to take action on climate change which is fuelling these temperatures. The federal government must turn its attention to rapidly reducing emissions to address climate change as a matter of urgency."


Great Barrier Reef Legacy director Dr Dean Miller said the world was experiencing higher marine temperatures and more frequent and intense marine heatwaves.

"These have potentially devastating impacts on aquaculture, fisheries, tourism and marine ecosystems - including repeated coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. It is looking likely that we may experience a bleaching event this year," Dr Miller said.

"Without immediate action to tackle climate change - including deep cuts in carbon emissions this critical decade - our marine industries and vital ecosystems are at ever increasing risk."

Great Barrier Reef Legacy is a not-for-profit created to address the urgent need to secure the long-term survival of the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs world-wide.

Data from the BoM around Cyclone Tiffany shows the sea surface temperatures in the region are around 30 degrees Celsius.

And it's not just doctors and scientists reporting the changes.

Angus Emmott, a third generation grazier from Longreach, in outback Queensland, and a spokesman for Farmers for Climate Action, said in Western Queensland some areas were in their 10th year of drought.

"This is exacerbated by increasingly high temperatures, such as the heatwave we experienced last week. Climate change brings hotter than normal temperatures and drier than normal weather, and the new EU data confirms what the climate scientists are telling us - our planet is warming.

"We need effective national leadership on climate change now to mitigate its impacts on farming, and on the ecosystems on which we all depend."

Pets and livestock were feeling it, too.

Veterinarians for Climate Action chairwoman Dr Jeannet Kessels said increasingly hotter temperatures were life-threatening for Australia's animals.

"Whether it be a possum dropping dead out of a tree, a beloved family pet dog passing away from heat stress, or a farmer's cow collapsing in the field - all of Australia's animals are at risk from the unprecedented rise in temperatures," Dr Kessels said.

"It doesn't have to be this way.

"We know that climate change is driving record temperatures over the last seven years, and we know how to fix it. Our government can help halt climate change in its tracks by setting climate targets and policies in line with the science."

- with Australian Associated Press

This story In 2021, the world's fifth-hottest year, Australia was drenched instead first appeared on The Canberra Times.