Australian Bureau of Meteorology forecasts unusually warm winter

Cosmos Magazine


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The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest long-range forecast of Australia’s climate outlook predicts potentially record warmer May to July days and nights for most of Australia.

This year’s unusually warm winter means maximum and minimum temperatures are very likely to be above median for most of the continent.

Except for parts of northern NT and Queensland, much of Australia has at least a 50% chance of unusually high maximum temperatures – defined as the warmest 20% of May to July days from 1981 to 2018.

Map of australia coloured almost entirely in dark red, which indicates a greater than 80% chance of exceeding median minimum temperatures for may to july 2024
Chance of exceeding the median minimum temperature for May to July 2024. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology

Some parts of Australia can also expect decreased rainfall from May to July, with a 60% to more than 80% chance of below median rainfall for most of northern Australia and small areas of the southern mainland.

The long-range forecast is the result of the BOM’s climate model, which “simulates the physics of atmospheric, oceanic, ice and land surface processes, and uses millions of observations from satellites as well as in-situ instrumentation on land and at sea.”

Map of australia showing mostly in white, indicating a 50% chance of exceeding median rainfall. Small areas in the top end and in southern australia are yellow to red, indicating a below 50% chance, and small areas in wa and eastern australia have a greater than 50% chance of exceeding median rainfall.
Chance of exceeding the median rainfall for May to July 2024. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology

The warmer than usual coming months are influenced by global sea surface temperatures (SSTs), which been the warmest on record for each month between April 2023 and March 2024, and Australia’s warming climate – which has warmed by 1.5°C between 1910 and 2023.

The model also accounts for the influence of natural climate drivers like the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the Southern Annular Mode (SAM).

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