The Big Wet is still The Big Dry

In Australasia, Drought & Fires, News Headlines, Scientific Reports

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says Australia is experiencing its wettest year on record since 2000.

New figures show this year’s rainfall across Australia is 30 per cent above average.

Last month, rainfall across Australia was twice the long-term average – a record not broken since 1906.

But the BOM’s senior climatologist, Dr Blair Trewin, says it is too early to declare Australia’s decade-long drought over.

“September was the wettest on record for Australia and a lot of that was because we had exceptional rains in many parts of northern and central Australia which are normally dry at this time of year,” he said.

“It has been a very wet year through a lot of the eastern two-thirds of Australia, so mainly south-east Northern Territory and some parts of south-west Queensland.

“Those are areas where the year-to-date is the wettest on record.”

According to the BOM, the reason for the big wet is the passing of an El Nino event and the rise of a La Nina event.

Dr Trewin says the Murray-Darling Basin has received above average falls in particular.

“The conditions have eased very considerably in the northern half of the Murray-Darling Basin, but there are still some quite significant long-term dry conditions showing up in south-east Queensland,” he said.

The report also says the south-west of Western Australia has had its driest year on record.

“Over the region as a whole, it has been the driest year on record by a fairly substantial margin, with only about half their normal rainfall in many areas,” Dr Trewin said.

The BOM has recorded a systematic drop in autumn and winter rainfall and a long-term shift towards less rain, which means it is likely to get hotter and drier.

“While the short-term drought has been removed from eastern Australia, we say that the rain has made only fairly limited inroads into the very long-term drought that we have seen in south-east Australia over the last decade or more,” he said.

Dr Trewin says it is a false impression to think the long-term drought is over.

“Partly the impression that people are getting is because this year has been closer to normal so it really stands out compared to the very dry conditions of the last four years,” he said.

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