1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Geography and Climate

This chapter was contributed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (January 2012).

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 second part discusses Australia’s wide range of climate conditions.

The island continent of Australia 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. Each of these phenomena is discussed in this chapter.

Temperatures in Australia were relatively stable from 1910 to 1950. Since then, both minimum and maximum temperatures have shown an increasing trend, with an overall increase from 1910 to 2010 of approximately 0.8°C. The acceleration in the warming trend that has occurred from the late 20th century has been largely attributed to the enhanced ‘greenhouse effect’ (see CLIMATE CHANGE for more details).

This chapter contains a special article, La Niña and the floods of 2010–11.

Related information can be found in chapters 2 ENVIRONMENT, 16 AGRICULTURE and 17 FORESTRY AND FISHING.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.