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Australia is experiencing a faster rate of warming than the rest of the planet, according to the country’s Bureau of Meteorology yearly climate report. Bureau climatologist Neil Plummer said, “We know that of Australia’s 20 hottest years, 15 have occurred since 1980” (Reuters).
Adding to the trend is the disturbing fact that 2005 was the hottest year for the nation since it first began compiling weather records in 1900.
Plagued by extreme drought for the last decade, Australia is the world’s driest inhabited country. The drought of 2002-2003 reduced its annual wheat production by more than 50%.
In the regions where most Australians live, crucial water reservoirs and rivers have dried up. Mr. Plummer expressed the problem succinctly, “Rain fell, but just not in the most populated areas.”
But even as much of the country rationed water, a number of places were soaked with above average rainfall. Further adding to the abnormalities in weather, some areas experienced extremely rare snowfalls in the summer.
Bureau statistics confirmed that 2006 was in fact the driest year on record in Southern Australia. Most Australians would agree, as most cities imposed tough restrictions on water usage. With no reprieve in sight, South Australian Premier Mike Rann warned that “much more needs to be done to save the little water we have.”
“This severe nationwide drought looks set to roll on through a very hot summer,” he added.