New Zealand has experienced an exceptionally warm year in 2021, with a possibility that it could be the hottest ever recorded.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has yet to release the official temperature statistics, but a veteran climate scientist has argued that 2021 set a record in temperature, the NZ Herald reported.
According to University of Tasmania professor Jim Salinger, 2021 had a record-high mean land surface temperature of 13.5oC, or 0.9oC above the 1981 to 2010 average. This exceeded the previous high of 13.45oC in 2016.
Records were also broken for Auckland with 16.4oC, or 1oC above average, and Dunedin with 12.3oC, or 1.2oC above average.
Salinger’s observations used the “seven-stations” temperature series that he helped develop. This includes more than 100 years of climate records, based on measurements from stations located at Auckland, Dunedin, Hokitika, Lincoln, Masterton, Nelson and Wellington.
Salinger said that the exceptionally warm year was caused by several factors compounding on the effects of climate change. These included warmer seas and the La Niña weather phenomenon, which faded but later returned.
The extremely warm year coincided with another record high in New Zealand – extreme weather claims. The Insurance Council of New Zealand estimated at least $304.9 million in insured losses due to extreme weather events in 2021, exceeding the previous record of $274 million set just the previous year in 2020.
With higher temperatures in New Zealand and globally making severe weather more common, the insurance industry has major roles to play in making communities more resilient against losses and becoming more responsible and sustainable investors.