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Warmest year on record: NIWA

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/06/2016

Surf Lifesaver Ben Stark watches over swimmers at Piha on Auckland's west coast © Getty Surf Lifesaver Ben Stark watches over swimmers at Piha on Auckland's west coast Feel like this year's summer was long and the winter warm? You're not alone.

Researchers say the first half of this year is set to be the hottest on record.

Data released by NIWA has found the average temperature across New Zealand to June this year has been the highest since records began in 1908, with numerous smaller records broken or approached during the year.

The current record of 1.1C over the average was set in 1938 and tied in 1999, but at current rates, this year is expected to be a whopping 1.3C above.

So far this year, the temperature for every month has been at least half a degree warmer than the average - the only two other times that happened were 1971 and 1998.

Climate scientist Dr Brett Mullan said there was no possibility of a cold snap large enough in the last few days of June to push 2016 out of the top spot.

He said long-term global warming in the region and "natural variability" were the two things causing the high temperatures.

"The natural variability acts like a tail wind, pushing the local temperatures above the long-term trend. Two factors are important: sea surface temperatures in the Tasman Sea are exceptionally warm and there has been more northerly flow than usual over New Zealand so far this year," Dr Mullan said.

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