Yes, you’re right. It has been warm lately. A ducted heat pump/air con unit in New Zealand homes has been put into cooling mode more often than ever before, thanks to an unprecedented stretch of warmer months. 47 months to be exact.
According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the last colder-than-average month in New Zealand was way back in January 2017. (That was the month that Donald Trump was inaugurated as US president, and the All Blacks were still Rugby World Cup champions) In the almost four years since then, temperature stations around New Zealand have registered 24 months of above-average temperatures and 23 months of average temperatures – but there has not been one “cold month” which NIWA defines as being at least 0.5 degrees Celsius below the 1981 to 2010 average.
All the hot months in that 47-month stretch were at least 0.5C above average, with NIWA saying that 2020 was the seventh-warmest year on record in New Zealand. Somewhat alarmingly though, five of the seven hottest years recorded have occurred since 2013. 2020 was also a dry month in most Kiwi locations with Auckland and Hamilton each recording their driest years since records began. The nationwide droughts and water shortages only highlight how warm and dry things have been lately.
The highest temperature in 2020 was 38.2C in Gisborne on January 31. The month of February saw Whangarei, Whitianga and Whakatane experience their hottest days since records began in those areas in the 1960s and 1970s. Auckland had its longest-ever drought, coming in at 47 days, while Blenheim went through an even longer dry spell of 64 days. Meanwhile, New Zealand also recorded its warmest winter which led to extremely low snow levels on Mt Cook.
New Zealand’s average temperature in 2020 was 0.63C above the 1981–2010 average. That’s in comparison to 2016, officially recognised as the country’s hottest year when the nationwide average temperature was 0.84C above the 1981–2010 average. Climate scientist James Renwick says it’s all part of a trend happening around the world:
“Over the past 23 years, only four have been cooler than the 1981-2010 normal. In the first 23 years of the record, since 1909, only four years were warmer than the 1981-2010 normal,” he said.
2020 was certainly a hot one all over the world. It ranks with 2016 as the world’s hottest year, according to records kept by the Copernicus Climate Change Service. They state temperatures have risen 1.25 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times which highlights the fact that all this warmth is something to be concerned about.
Because of global warming, more environmentally-friendly heating and cooling methods are in vogue. This Auckland heat pump installer says more consumers are making their purchasing decisions based on eco-factors and not just cost ones. As heat pumps/air con units are known for their efficiency and low greenhouse gas emissions, that consumer trend is a positive sign in an increasingly warm and worrying climate.