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Climate observations

Key messages

Understanding climate

Climate is the long-term pattern of prevailing weather conditions (rainfall, temperature etc.) for a particular locality or region, while weather refers to the state of the atmosphere at or for a brief period of time. Seasonal variations such as the location and intensity of the summer monsoon and year-to-year fluctuations in the global climate system related to the El Niño Southern Oscillation phenomenon strongly influence Queensland’s climate.

In Queensland, El Niño is often—though not always—associated with below average rainfall throughout winter, spring and summer. La Niña, the opposite of El Niño, is often linked to an increased risk of above average rainfall, floods and tropical cyclones.

Understanding historical variability helps build resilience to future events

Statistics describing historical climate variability help us to better understand Queensland’s climate, especially in regard to agricultural and water resources. For example, with an understanding of historical climate variability and its drivers, climate outlooks can be developed using statistical modelling for specific periods (i.e. the summer wet season). This helps decision-makers plan for future drought and flood events.

Key findings

State

Annual rainfall

Rainfall was extremely low across large parts of Queensland in 3 of the last 5 years with many areas experiencing drought.

Evaporation rate

Annual evaporation is typically much higher in inland parts of Queensland than in coastal and sub-coastal areas.

Mean annual temperature

2017 was Queensland’s warmest year on record. The years 2013 through to 2016 were also amongst the warmest on record.

Extreme weather events (‘hot’ days)

Hot days were more frequent than average at several inland locations over the 2013 to 2017 period.

Extreme weather events (days with ‘very heavy rainfall’)

While days with ‘very heavy rainfall’ are rare in parts of south-western Queensland, they are common along Queensland’s north-eastern seaboard.

Programs

Rainfall monitoring

The Bureau of Meteorology provides high quality Australian rainfall data sets from 1900 to the most recent calendar year. The data is available for daily or monthly time scales. Information is available for rainfall totals, percentages, deciles, drought, anomalies, and one year, two year, three year differences.

Weather station data

Weather stations monitor and record information on rainfall, evaporation and air temperature.

Annual climate statement

The annual climate statement discusses the long-term trends in Australia’s climate. The statement focuses primarily on climate observations and monitoring carried out by the Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in the Australian region.

Last updated 26 October 2018