Last year was warmest year on record

@devlincolle: Southland and Queenstown had their warmest year in 2013 since records began, figures show.

Figures released yesterday by climate scientist Jim Salinger show a warm winter and more frequent northeasterly winds contributed to the records.

The mean temperature for the Southland region last year was 10.9 degrees Celsius - 1.03C above normal. Dr Salinger said it was the warmest year since records began in the region in 1911.

The mean temperature for Queenstown last year was 11.9C, 1.07C above normal.

This was the warmest since Queenstown records began in 1930.

Dr Salinger also recorded temperatures at Milford Sound, saying it had its second warmest year since records began in 1935.

Milford Sound's mean temperature last year was 11.4C, 1.06C above normal.

Last year as a whole was the country's second-warmest since records began in 1870, with a mean temperature of 13.01C, 0.84C above normal.

The figures are derived from 22 land stations and the offshore Islands.

The reason for the warmth in the south was more frequent northeasterly winds, he said.

Dr Salinger expected the above-average temperatures would continue this year for the whole country and predicted average temperatures of 0.2C to 0.6C above average.

The bad news was the rising temperatures followed a global trend which an intergovernmental panel on climate change report blames on "increasing greenhouse gases augmenting the greenhouse effect," Dr Salinger said.

Federated Farmers' Southland provincial president Russell MacPherson said the mild winter had been good for grass growth but the drier summer was not desirable.

"Late summer and early autumn were a bit dry but the mild winter was nice. Most farmers will agree if this was global warming, it is welcomed," he said.

45S Weather Services manager Andy Fraser said the records were not about heat waves but rather a warmer winter.

"There were less cold southerly outbreaks, cloudy skies and fewer frosts, which contributed," he said.

His data shows the highest temperature in Invercargill during 2013 was 29.3C in January and lowest was -2.3C, in September. Prior to last year, an average winter low would be -4.4C, he said.

The Southland Times