Summer 2020-21 temperatures in Australia

It has been a remarkably cool summer in Australia compared to some of the more recent ones that have been dominated by droughts, bushfires and searing heatwaves. I decided to look at the mean temperatures for each of the winter months in a little more detail using reanalysis data. I’m not sure if I’ve screwed up in my coding here, because each of the monthly temperature anomaly charts for their summer seem maybe a little too cool, but I thought I would publish them and be damned anyway! This is what the Australian Bureau of Meteorology had to say about temperatures for this summer just ended.

Summer 2020–21 was warmer than average, with a mean temperature 0.06 °C above average. The national mean maximum temperature was below average at −0.28 °C, while the mean minimum temperature was 0.39 °C warmer than average.

Mean maximum temperatures were cooler than average for much of the mainland, but warmer than average for parts of the west coast, and parts of south-west Queensland and between Fraser Island and Rockhampton. The mean maximum temperature for the season was very much below average (decile 1, the lowest 10% of historical observations) for much of inland eastern Western Australia.

Mean minimum temperatures were above average for the west and north-west of Western Australia, the north and east of the Northern Territory, all of Queensland, and the northern and eastern margin of New South Wales; they were below average for the northern interior of Western Australia and some adjacent parts of the Northern Territory, areas of southern inland New South Wales, north-west Victoria, and south-east and northern South Australia. The mean minimum temperature for the season was very much above average (decile 10, the highest 10% of historical observations) for much of inland Queensland and the Cape York Peninsula and parts of coastal north-west Western Australia.

A very cold start to December saw a few stations near the west coast of Western Australia observed record low temperatures for summer on 1 December, associated with the passage of a tropical low.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Here’s their version of mean temperature anomalies for the whole winter. I can’t say that I agree with the colour scale they’ve chosen to use. For some reason I always associate blue with negative anomalies (and temperatures) and green for positive anomalies. Looking at this chart makes me think my -2°C and -3°C anomalies in Western Australia weren’t too far off the mark when looking at the two shades of green in their chart. It does seem strange with all these negative green areas covering at least 50% of Australia that the mean temperature for the whole winter would come in above average (+0.06°C).

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