Australian climates

What does the word "climate" mean? Many people think of it as "what the weather is usually like". But climate is more than a summary of average conditions because it also includes information about natural variability and the likelihood of particular events occuring. Our definition and example will make it clearer.

There are many different ways of describing or classifying climates. How it’s done depends on the underlying purpose in view; in other words, on your interests and needs.

Thermal comfort is important for tourists, building designers and people with health concerns. How hot or cold will it be? Will it be hot and dry, or warm and humid? For these people, a map showing climate zones based on temperature and humidity will be useful.

If you want to grow things, then you’ll be interested in temperature and rainfall so see our Koeppen maps which show climate zones based on vegetation. In this classification scheme, the climate of each region is based on temperature and rainfall, as indicated by the native vegetation. For example, date palms grow only in regions where the mean temperature of the coldest month is greater than 18 degrees C, so Köppen chose the 18 degree C isotherm in the coldest month as the boundary of the equatorial climate.

In our dry climate, the seasonal rainfall zone maps, which show climate zones based on rainfall only will be useful for irrigation planners and water supply managers.

For details of the climate of many places in the Australian region, see our Climate Averages. For information about places overseas, go to Climates around the world.