The record breaking year that was

Mercury rises to record-breaking levels

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 13:21 06/01/2014
hot weather
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

HOT IN THE CITY: Awatapu College students Adam, 15, and James, 12, William enjoy the weather in December.

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Palmerston North had its second warmest year and warmest winter on record in 2013 and a climate scientist is warning the warming trend will have a serious effect on the region's agricultural base.

Climate scientist Jim Salinger released the figures this morning, showing 2013's winter in Manawatu - and across New Zealand - beat all others for warmth since records began in 1870.

The average temperature in the city this year was 14.1 degrees Celsius, 0.85 degrees C above normal.

The only year it was hotter was 1998, when Palmerston North had an average temperature throughout the year of 14.2 degrees C.

Winter 2013 mean temperatures were 1.27 degrees C above the 1961-1990 average, the highest on record.

Salinger said that while the temperature increase was nice for some, the region's reliance on agriculture would be affected in the long term by warming that was this significant.

The above-average temperatures were expected to continue this year with 0.2 to 0.6 degrees C above average temperatures for New Zealand predicted, he said.

"What will start to happen is a spread of sub-tropical grasses that will make farming as it is more difficult.

"The type of cropping Manawatu relies on will probably change too. As planetary warming continues you'll see more of a move into corn and maize and crops like that.

"They have higher heat requirements, but as it gets hotter they will become the future."

The warming followed a global trend which an intergovernmental panel on climate change report blames on "increasing greenhouse gases augmenting the greenhouse effect", he said.

The New Zealand regional mean temperature for 2013 was derived from 22 land stations, and three offshore islands.

Record annual mean temperatures were recorded in the south east of the South Island, Salinger said.

Masterton, Omarama, Timaru, Invercargill and the Chatham Islands all had record years.

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