Queensland's future climate

Queensland’s climate in the decades ahead will be different from what it was in the past.

We can expect changes in:

You will need to modify your farming practices to manage the risks presented by the change in climate.

The vulnerability to climate change varies across Queensland and across agricultural sectors.

General threats for agriculture include:

  • decline in productivity due to increased drought
  • crop yields benefiting from warmer conditions and higher carbon dioxide levels, but vulnerable to reduced rainfall
  • greater exposure of stock and crops to heat-related stress and disease
  • less winter chilling for fruit and nuts
  • southern migration of some pests
  • potential increase in the distribution and abundance of some exotic weeds

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Temperature

Temperature projections for Queensland indicate continued warming over the coming decades.

Projected temperature increases for 2030 and 2070 in Queensland, relative to 1990 climate, are given in the table below.

YearMinimum increase in temperature
2030
1.0°C (coastal Queensland)
1.5°C (inland Queensland)
2070 2.0°C (low greenhouse gas emission scenario)
4.0°C (high greenhouse gas emission scenario)

Slightly less warming is expected along the coast than in the rest of Queensland.

Spring and autumn are expected to be warmer in line with the projected average increase.

Summer is likely to be warmer by slightly more than the average projected increase.

Winter is likely to be warmer by slightly less than the average projected increase.

Scientists have more confidence in the projections for mean temperature than in those for rainfall.

They have more confidence in the projections for 2030 than in those for 2070.

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Extreme temperatures

We can expect more very hot days and nights. By 2070, under a high greenhouse gas emission scenario, the number of days per year above 35°C is likely to double.

We can expect less frosts and less very cold days and nights.

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Humidity

Inland, we can expect small decreases in relative humidity.

Along the coast, there is likely to be little change.

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Wind speed

In south-east Queensland, we can expect small increases in average wind speed.

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Cyclones

The intensity of tropical cyclones is expected to increase.

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Rainfall

During winter and spring, we can expect a drying trend for central and southern Queensland.

Summer and autumn rainfall changes are less certain.

For the far north, projections are mixed, so the best estimate is for little change.

Projected annual rainfall decreases for 2030 and 2070 in Queensland, relative to 1990 climate, are given in the table below.

YearDecrease in annual rainfall
2030
5%
2070 10% (low greenhouse gas emission scenario)
20% (high greenhouse gas emission scenario)

Scientists have more confidence in the projections for temperature than in those for rainfall.

They have more confidence in the projections for 2030 than in those for 2070.

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Drought and extreme rainfall

Potential evapotranspiration is expected to increase over Queensland.

Evapotranspiration is the combination of evaporation from soil and water surfaces, and transpiration from vegetation. When these changes are combined with the projected declines in rainfall, an increase in aridity and drought occurrence is likely.

Climate projections show an increase in daily precipitation intensity and an increase in the number of dry days. This suggests that Queensland’s rainfall patterns will have longer dry spells interrupted by heavier rainfall events.

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