Annual Climate Report 2002

The Annual Climate Report is the Bureau of Meteorology's official historical record of the previous year's climate. It provides a national overview of temperature and rainfall during the year, and documents significant weather and climate events.

This report contains an in-depth analysis of the past year's climate, following on from the Annual Climate Statement released earlier in the year.

The Australian climate of 2002 reflected the contrasting states of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The period from January to April saw the ENSO state remain neutral. Maximum temperatures over Australia between January and early March were warmer than average for Queensland, but generally average to cooler than average over the rest of the continent. Rainfall for the period was generally near or above average, except for some regions of below median rainfall in Queensland and parts of south coastal Australia.

Come autumn, however, and with the onset of El Niño, below average rainfall totals began to affect much of the continent. Similarly, above average maximum temperatures were observed in most locations. By mid-June the patterns of tropical convection and persistent westerly wind anomalies in the Pacific,when combined with the sea temperature signal, indicated El Niño conditions had been established.

The result for Australia's winter was its 7th lowest rainfall, its highest mean maximum temperature and its largest diurnal temperature range on record. Likewise, both spring and autumn experienced record all-Australia mean maximum temperatures by considerable margins. The 10-months from March to December, which includes Australia's main crop and pasture growing season (April–October), saw 61% of the area of Australia with rainfall below the 10th percentile, an area second only to the 10-month period of November-August 1901–02. March to December 2002 also saw 97% of the continent experience below median rainfall, with dry conditions exacerbated by the high temperatures. Although many individual regions had experienced more severe rainfall deficiencies on one or more previous occasions, the immense expanse of this dry event set it aside from most, if not all, dry periods since high quality records began in 1900.

Annual rainfall values showed 2002 was Australia's 4th driest on record. Maximum temperatures, Australia-wide, were the warmest on record, whilst minimum temperatures were just below normal. The resulting mean temperature was the 5th warmest since reliable annual temperature records commenced in 1910.

Product Code: IDCKGCAR1.2002

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