For many Australians 2007 was the warmest year on record, although when averaged across the whole continent, it was only the sixth warmest year, according to the 2007 Climate Statement issued today by the National Climate Centre.
Statistically, the mean temperature for Australia was 0.67°C above average in 2007, making it the sixth warmest year since high quality Australia-wide recordkeeping began in 1910.
A grim feature of the year has been extremely low water availability across parts of Australia, although the continent as a whole received near average rainfall.
The basin is home to two million people and supplies nearly half Australia's fruit and cereal crops. The ongoing drought intensified early in November with the onset of very hot weather. Temperatures were up to six degrees above average for much of the southern part of the Basin.
National Farmers Federation Vice-President Charles Burke said that early in the year Australian farmers were hopeful that there would be a strong winter cropping season as early rain promised to see production meet high global prices, driven by demand for sugar and grains from the growing biofuels market.
"However, the failure of the rains to eventuate over both winter and spring saw that optimism wane as the sector was plunged into unprecedented back-to-back winter crop failures, and minimal water allocations for many farms across the country. As a result, farm debt mounted, rising to over $45 billion, " Burke said.