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Home » New Zealand records warmest winter ever as scientists blame climate change

New Zealand records warmest winter ever as scientists blame climate change

New Zealand records warmest winter ever as scientists blame climate change

The changes were are putting pressure on natural ecosystems and over time, more species would face extinction, experts warn.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The southern winter that just ended in New Zealand was the warmest ever recorded, and scientists say that climate change is driving temperatures ever higher.

For the three months through August, the average temperature was 50 Fahrenheit, or 9.8 Celsius, according to New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

That's 1.3C above the long-term average and 0.2C higher than the previous record posted last year. Scientists have been keeping records since 1909, but most of the warmest winters have been recent.

Nava Fedaeff, a meteorologist at the institute, said that on top of a background of global warming, this year there were more warm winds than usual from the north and warmer sea temperatures.

She said the underlying warming trend can be tracked through carbon dioxide concentration, which has increased in New Zealand from 320 parts per million 50 years ago to about 412 parts per million today.

Fedaeff said snowfall at lower elevations was well below average this winter as it was often replaced with rain, which could make for lower river levels later in the year because there will be less snowmelt. That could impact irrigation for farms, she said.

There were also more extreme weather events, Fedaeff said, including severe flooding in some places and dry spells in others.

Professor James Renwick, a climate scientist at the Victoria University of Wellington, said that in the short term at least, some New Zealand farmers with cow or sheep herds might benefit from a longer grass-growing season.

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