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2013 Hottest Year on Record in Australia

Jan 03, 2014 03:55 PM EST

Australians welcomed the new year with a searing heatwave across parts of the country, and Friday officials there reported that 2013 was the hottest calendar year since record-keeping began in 1910, surpassing the previous hottest year record set in 2005.

Average temperatures in 2013 were 1.20°C above the long-term average of 21.8°C, the country's Bureau of Meteorology reported in its annual climate statement.

"The new record high calendar year temperature averaged across Australia is remarkable because it occurred not in an El Niño year, but a normal year," David Karoly, a climate scientist from the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, said statement obtained by Reuters.

As 2013 began, Australia recorded its hottest day (Jan. 7), hottest week and hottest month on record.

"A new record was set for the number of consecutive days the national average temperature exceeded 39°C - seven days between 2 and 8 January 2013, almost doubling the previous record of four consecutive days in 1973," the Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.

Also in January of 2013, a record-breaking high temperature of 49.6°C registered on thermometers at Moomba in South Australia, the highest temperature recorded in the country since 1998.

Reuters reported that the hot temperatures last year took their toll on Australian cattle farmers, as the heat is leading to the rapid depletion of water supplies and the withering of feed crops.

The world's third largest beef-exporting nation will reduce its cattle to about 25 million head in the 2013/2014 season due to increased slaughter of the animals due to the unfavorable weather, the total is the lowest it has been since the 2009/2010 season, Reuters reported.

Charles Burke, a beef farmer and chief executive of the Queensland cattle industry group Agforce, told Reuters that the heatwave-induced drought is "shaping to be an absolute disaster." Half of the cattle in Australia are raised in Queensland.

"Water supplies are fast diminishing and whatever feed supplies that were left are cooking off to the point where there won't be any left," Burke said.

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