Northern Australian temperature outlook

Issued 18 December 2013

Warmer seasonal outlook extends west to the NT

Text details of chance of warmer maximum and minimum temperatures

Summary

  • Warmer days and nights are more likely over northern Australia
  • Warmer nights are more likely further west in Queensland and into the whole of the Northern Territory compared to the last temperature outlook
  • Climate influences include a neutral tropical Pacific, and a warm Indian Ocean
  • Outlook accuracy for maximum temperatures is moderate over most of northern Australia. Minimum temperature accuracy is moderate with lower accuracy areas in some parts of north Queensland and west into the NT; see accuracy tab for more detail.
Probability of exceeding median maximum temperature, larger view Probability of exceeding median minimum temperature, larger view

Details

The chances of the January to March maximum temperature exceeding the long-term median maximum temperature are greater than 60% over northern Australia (see map). Odds increase to greater than 70% over the Top End of the NT and central and southern Queensland. So for every ten January to March outlooks with similar odds to these, about six or seven of them would be expected to be warmer than average over these areas, while about three or four years would be cooler.

The chances that the average minimum temperature for January to March will exceed the long-term median are greater than 60% over northern Australia (see map). Odds increase to greater than 70% over the Top End of the NT and parts of central and southern Queensland.

Climate influences

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral, with the majority of atmospheric and oceanic indicators close to their long-term average. Dynamical models surveyed by the Bureau suggest ENSO-neutral conditions are likely to persist at least for the austral summer and early autumn. This means there is no strong shift in the odds from the tropical Pacific in this outlook.

Although the Indian Ocean Dipole has limited impact upon Australia during the months from December to April, the broad area of warmer than average sea surface temperatures across the central Indian Ocean has been shown to influence the climate over large parts of Australia at this time of year.

Tropical Australian sea surface temperatures are currently average to slightly cooler than average, and are expected to remain that way over the forecast period. Weak to moderate tropical activity (cloud and rainfall associated with the Madden-Julian Oscillation) is expected in the first month.

How accurate is the outlook?

Maximum temperature outlook accuracy for the January to March period is:

  • Moderate over much northern Australia
  • Weak over central parts of the NT and the Lower Carpentaria region of Queensland

Minimum temperature outlook accuracy for the January to March period is:

  • Moderate over northern and western parts of the NT and across southern and eastern Queensland.
  • Weak through western Queensland and through central parts of the NT
  • Very weak in the Lower Carpentaria region of Queensland