Climate change is likely making drought conditions in southwest and southeast Australia worse
Climate change has contributed to a southward shift in weather systems that typically bring cool season rainfall to southern Australia. Since the 1970s late autumn and early winter rainfall has decreased by 15 percent in southeast Australia, and Western Australia’s southwest region has experienced a 15 percent decline in cool season rainfall.
Climate change is also driving an increase in the intensity and frequency of hot days and heatwaves in Australia, exacerbating drought conditions.
Queensland and New South Wales are currently in the grip of severe drought, with drought declared for 16.4 percent of New South Wales and 57.6 percent of Queensland.
Current drought conditions come after a 2016/2017 summer characterised by recordbreaking temperatures, followed by a record dry winter. Rainfall over southern Australia during autumn 2018 was the second lowest on record.
Time spent in drought is projected to increase in the future across southern Australia. Future drying trends in Australia will be most pronounced over southwest Western Australia, with total reductions in autumn and winter precipitation potentially as high as 50 percent by the late 21st Century.