Australia is the lowest, flattest and, apart from Antarctica, the driest of the continents.
The first part of this chapter describes Australia's landforms and their history in terms of how they were formed. The island continent features a wide range of climatic zones, from the tropical regions of the north, through the arid expanses of the interior, to the temperate regions of the south. Australia experiences many of nature's more extreme phenomena including droughts, floods, tropical cyclones, severe storms, bushfires, and the occasional tornado. These phenomena are discussed in the second part of this chapter.
Temperatures in Australia were relatively stable from 1910 until 1950. Since then both minimum and maximum temperatures have followed an increasing trend, with an overall increase during 1910 to 2003 of approximately 0.7 degrees Celsius. This 'warming' trend is discussed in the section Climate change.