New Zealand has experienced its hottest June since records began more than 110 years ago, according to official weather data.
Despite a polar blast that hit the country last week, figures from the National Institute for Water and Atmosphere Research (NIWA) show that the average temperature in June was 2 ° C warmer than usual, with twenty-four locations in the entire country reaching its own all-time highs. .
That makes this June the warmest in New Zealand since NIWA’s seven-station temperature series began in 1909.
The heat was widespread, with each long-term monitoring station observing average temperatures above or well above average. It was particularly warm in Motueka, near the top of the South Island, where the mean temperature of 10.8 ° C was 3.2 ° C higher than the 1981-2010 city average.
Of the six major centers, Auckland was the warmest and sunniest, Tauranga was the wettest, Christchurch was the coldest and driest, and Dunedin was the least sunny.
The highest recorded temperature was recorded in Hastings, in Hawke’s Bay, and Leigh, north of Auckland, both reaching 22 ° C on different days of the month.
The average 2 ° C rise is “a massive change” from normal, climate scientist Gregor Macara said, adding that the previous June record was an average 1.64 ° C higher than usual.
NIWA reduces rising temperatures to above-normal air pressure above normal in the east of the country and climate change.
“Northeast winds are pulling air masses from the subtropics, so they are relatively warm. The fact that we had more northeast winds than normal created warmer air over the country than we would normally see in June. “
Sea surface temperatures were also warmer than normal and could be a contributing factor.
“Because we are an island nation, our climate is characterized by being maritime, which means that it is influenced by the sea. Warmer-than-normal marine surfaces helped keep air temperatures warmer than normal, ”Macara said.
The basis for all this was climate change, he said.
Over the past 100 years, New Zealand’s temperature has risen by 1 ° C, which is contributing to warmer overall temperatures, Macara said.
If the warmer winter months persist for years to come, that could spell trouble for the country’s ski slopes and agricultural sector.
“It will pose increasing challenges for the ski industry because it will be more marginal to operate early in the season without snowfall or in temperatures too warm to allow for artificial snowmaking.”
In early June, two of the country’s most popular ski destinations, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak and Wanaka’s Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort, had to delay their openings due to hot weather and a lack of snow.
Agricultural industries that depend on frost would also suffer, he said, but added that the warm climate could provide opportunities to reorient the sector towards crops that do well in hot climates.
NIWA forecasters predict a continuation of warm weather during the remaining winter months.