Regional Weather and Climate Guides

The Regional Weather and Climate Guides project is part of the Australian Government’s Drought Assistance Package, announced by Minister for Drought David Littleproud on 19 August 2018. The project aims to improve the resilience of farming businesses by providing localised facts about the likelihood, severity and duration of key weather variables in regions across the country. The weather and climate information will be delivered through a set of guides corresponding to Australia's Natural Resource Management regions. The project is a collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO and FarmLink Research. The guides have been developed in collaboration with representatives from each NRM region to ensure the information is tailored to the needs of local farmers and agribusinesses.

Map of regions. Tap region areas for guide links

Select a district, then the 'Download region PDF' link in the popup information

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What's the purpose of the Climate Guides? How are the Climate Guides different to other information on the Bureau's website?

The purpose of the Climate Guides is to help farmers understand and manage their climate risk, by providing regionally focused climate and weather summaries that detail historical observational information available from Bureau of Meteorology weather stations. The information presented has been informed through interviews with local producers, agricultural advisers, local government, and other relevant stakeholders from the 56 NRM regions in Australia. Importantly this involved visiting the regions and gaining insights into what is relevant, and what's not, with regard to weather information used to inform agricultural decisions.

Why did we use Natural Resource Management (NRM*) regions?

When this project was first imagined, we anticipated producing roughly 50 guides based on agro-ecological regions across Australia. As we began looking at how to divide Australia into such regions we realised that the 56 NRM regions already met our needs fairly closely. Therefore, we decided to use the NRM region boundaries for this project, except for the Northern Territory, which was split into three parts, and Rangelands which was split into North and South.

*Natural Resource Management (NRM) is the integrated management of the natural resources that make up Australia's natural landscapes – that is, our land, water, soil, plants and animals. The regional NRM model defines 56 catchments and bioregions, and these are managed by a mix of government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs). NRM regions as defined in 2016

How did you decide what data and weather information to include?

The project team has been holding workshops with farming representatives in NRM regions across the country. These workshops allowed us to better understand the farming practices in each region, and the type of weather information that would help inform the decisions of those in the local agriculture industry.

Is a guide being made available for my area?

The project team is in the process of producing guides for all of Australia's NRM regions. We expect all guides to be available to the public by the end of the year.

What locations are used in the Climate Guides?

The locations used in each guide were decided based on two factors:
(1) locations with a Bureau weather station with sufficient length and completeness of record;
(2) locations suggested by attendees at our Climate Guides Workshops as being either representative or otherwise useful references locations.

Where a site was both suggested and had sufficient data it was used in the guide.

In most cases, data are actual observations from Bureau of Meteorology weather stations that were accessed through the SILO API. In a few, rare cases modelled or interpolated data were used. These data were also taken from the SILO API.

Gridded data, used to produce the maps and any area-averaged statistics, are from the Bureau of Meteorology's Australian Water Availability Project (AWAP) 5 km data-set.

** Jones et al. (2009). High-quality spatial climate data-sets for Australia. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal 58 (2009) 233 248. Also see About maps and data

How were the area averages calculated?

Most of the Climate Guides include area averaged rainfall statistics and a few have area-averaged frost statistics. Where an area-average statistic is given it is calculated using the AWAP 5 km grids for the 30 year climate reference period from 1989 to 2018.

What is the source of the regional descriptions on the first page of the guides?

The source of the regional descriptions and the economic data is the Australian Bureau of Statistics website (Catalogue number 7503.0). See catalogue no. 7503.0 – Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017–18) as well as the respective NRM/Catchment Management websites and discussions with regional agricultural advisors. The Burdekin guide included some land use mapping data from the Queensland Land Use Mapping Program.

Gross value of agricultural commodities produced (GVAP) by NRM region is available at Australian Bureau of Statistics website (Catalogue number 7503.0) see catalogue no. 7503.0 – Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2017–18.

Percent of land area under agriculture was calculated for each NRM region using spatial data available from: ABARES Catchment Scale Land use data.

What are the different colours on the Land Use Maps and what do they represent?

The colours represent different classes of land use and are based on the Australian Land Use and Management Classification System 2016 which has six major classes.

  1. Conservation and Natural Environments
  2. Production from Relatively Natural Environments
  3. Production from Dryland Agriculture and Plantations
  4. Production from Irrigated Agriculture and Plantations
  5. Intensive Uses
  6. Water

These are labelled as below in the abbreviated legend.

  1. Natural
  2. Low Level
  3. Dryland
  4. Irrigated
  5. Intensive
  6. Water
Why do the lengths of records vary?

Observational equipment has been standardised and calibrated by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology since 1908. By 1910, this standardised equipment was established and in use in many parts of the country. This network has changed over the past century to account for population growth and expansion into more remote parts of the continent. Changes in infrastructure also affect the Bureau’s network. Over time, towns and cities grow, new roads and airports are built, and rural land use changes. These developments can force the movement and replacement of thermometers and other equipment.

In 2018, the Bureau had 752 temperature recording sites and nearly 6000 rain gauges operating across Australia; the newer sites of course having shorter recording periods.

What is 'rainfall reliability' and how is it calculated?

'Rainfall reliability' is the wording we have used to describe a measure of the rainfall variability, where high rainfall variability is the same as low reliability – it is rainfall that may change a lot from year to year. The rainfall reliability measurement does NOT show rainfall that is consistent throughout the season, rather it is a comparison of seasonal totals from year to year and provides a measure how much the total rainfall may change from year to year.

The rainfall reliability maps shown in most guides is the coefficient of variation. This is calculated as the standard deviation divided by the mean. The Standard deviation and mean are calculated over the 30-year period from 1989 to 2018. It is important to note that this calculation does not represent the extreme range of recorded rainfall at a location, but is a measure of the usual, or standard, change from year to year. Also, from this calculation, areas with a very low mean rainfall will also show as high variability.

Definitions for the guides are as follows:

  • High rainfall variability (low reliability): On average the seasonal total rainfall can change by 50% or more from year to year. To put it another way, if the average rainfall for a year is 1000 mm, it is not unusual to get 500 mm one year or 1500 mm in the next year (i.e. a coefficient of variation of 50%).
  • Moderate rainfall variability (or moderate reliability): On average the seasonal total rainfall can change by 30% to 50% of the average rainfall. This is rain that is usually near the seasonal average from year to year, but there have been some very wet seasons and some very dry seasons in the record.
  • Low rainfall variability (or high reliability): On average the seasonal total rainfall changes by less than 30% from year to year.
What if I have additional questions or comments about the climate guides?

We welcome your feedback and queries. Please contact the Bureau's Agriculture team at agriculture@bom.gov.au