Current Climate

Climatology

This page presents Australia's climate context for the current climatology, 1991-2020, derived from observed, historical data. Information should be used to build a strong understanding of current climate conditions in order to appreciate future climate scenarios and projected change. You can visualize data for the current climatology through spatial variation, the seasonal cycle, or as a time series. Analysis is available for both annual and seasonal data. Data presentation defaults to national-scale aggregation, however sub-national data aggregations can be accessed by clicking within a country, on a sub-national unit.  Other historical climatologies can be selected from the Time Period dropdown list. Data for  specific coordinates can be downloaded for in the Data Download page.

Observed, historical data is produced by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of University of East Anglia. Data is presented at a 0.5º x 0.5º (50km x 50km) resolution.

The Australian continent covers a large range of climate zones, from the tropics in the north to the arid interior and temperate regions in the south. Australia is the driest of all inhabited continents, with considerable rainfall and temperature variability both across the country and from year to year. Australia has a wide range of daily temperatures, with summer temperatures ranging from of 5.7°C in New South Wales to 30.8°C in Queensland, and to 8°C in Tasmania.

Temperature

  • The annual average temperature in Australia has increased by 1°C since 1910, with most warming occurring since 1950.

  • Each decade since the 1950s has been warmer than the preceding decade.

Precipitation

  • Rainfall variation is strongly influenced by phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña.

  • Australian rainfall has a significant degree of inter-annual and inter-decadal variability. Despite large natural variability, underlying longer-term trends are evident in some regions.

  • Since the 1970s, there has been significant drying across southern Australia, especially across the cool April to October growing season. For the southeast of the continent, rainfall for the period 1996 to 2015 has decreased by around 11% since national rainfall records began in 1900. This period encompasses the Millennium Drought, which saw low annual rainfall totals across the region from 1997 to 2010. The drying trend is particularly strong between May and July over southwest Western Australia, with rainfall since 1970 around 19% less than the long-term average. Since 1996, this decline from the long-term average has increased to around 25%.