Sunset over a creek

South-eastern Australia Climate

The climate of the SEACI study region is highly variable with large differences in temperature, rainfall and evaporation from one year to the next. It has, historically, been subject to both extreme floods and droughts. It spans several different climates: cool, humid eastern uplands, temperate southeast mallee, inland subtropical northern areas, and hot, dry arid and semi arid country in the far west.

South-eastern Australia's climate is influenced by large-scale features of the atmospheric circulation. These include:

  • the El Nino - Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which leads to wide-spread drought when the sea-surface temperature rises in the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean and falls in the west around Indonesia
  • variations in the sea-surface temperature of the Indian Ocean (indicated by the Indian Ocean Dipole) which are linked to the frequency of north-west cloud bands that bring rain right across Australia
  • weather systems such as east-coast lows that bring heavy rain to coastal areas and are affected by the sea-surface temperature patterns in the Tasman Sea
  • high-latitude circulations associated with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), which represents variations in the strength and position of the westerly winds south of Australia.


For further information on our changing climate, see:

Climate and water availability in south-eastern Australia: A synthesis of findings from Phase 2 of the South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative | (PDF, 8.74 MB)
State of the Climate Report | (External Link)
MDB Sustainable Yields Reports | (External Link)
Bureau of Meteorology: Climate Change | (External Link)