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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

2 March 2004

2003 - the sixth warmest year, with near-normal rainfall


Australia experienced its sixth warmest year on record in 2003 and a return to near-normal rainfall.

These are the highlights of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's Annual Climate Summary released today by the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau, Dr Sharman Stone.

"The Annual Climate Summary, is a free booklet which has been issued annually since 1994, to provide a concise and easy-to-read reference on Australia's climate," Dr Stone said.

"Australia's weather is extremely variable, and this year's Summary highlights the changeable nature of our climate, as we saw the peak and retreat of the 2002/03 El Niño-related drought.

"The Summary provides a listing of significant events for the year, which included bushfires; a March heatwave in Perth; a damaging tornado outside Bendigo, Victoria; WA's most widespread snowfalls since 1992; widespread frost damage in three States in September, and many severe storms, notably a Melbourne thunderstorm in early December regarded as a 1 in 100 year event.

"National maps showing month-to-month variations in rainfall and temperature are also included, complemented by historical comparisons. Weather extremes for each State are listed, along with capital city annual statistics.

"The Summary demonstrates the importance of maintaining high-quality climate observations, allowing us to be better prepared for the seasons ahead. The booklet also emphasises the benefits of exchanging data worldwide to monitor global climate trends, and to improve our understanding of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation phenomenon," Dr Stone said.

The 18-page Summary booklet is available from the Bureau's regional offices and online at www.bom.gov.au.

Australia's 6000 volunteer rainfall observers will receive a copy along with subscribers to the Seasonal Climate outlook.

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