Queensland's Changing Climate
Queensland is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The climate of Queensland is projected to continue to change into the future.
Climate change projections of Australia’s future climate are delivered at a national level through the Climate Change in Australia website. In addition, state-based climate projections for Queensland are delivered by the Queensland Department of Environment and Sciences
(DES) through the Long Paddock portal. These state-based projections are provided at a higher resolution than the national projections, provide local-scale information and may better represent regional climate. While the methodologies for producing the national and state-based projections differ, the resulting information about the changing climate is broadly consistent, but with some regional differences.
For more information and data on Queensland regional climate projections, please visit the Queensland Future Climate website
. On the website, an interactive platform for regionalised projections summarises the changes in future climate for a number of regions, climate metrics, time-steps and emissions scenarios – that is the Queensland Future Climate Dashboard
. The gridded data are also available for download at TERN Ecosystem Research Infrastructure
The climate statements below are largely based on the national projections data from the Climate Change in Australia website, and on past observational data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Projections are focused on mid-century (2040-2059) relative to 1986-2005 (unless otherwise stated), in line with baselines used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5). Projections are based on a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), and averages refer to the average of projected changes across the whole State.
Queensland is already experiencing the impacts of climate change:
- All of Queensland has warmed since 1910. Average annual temperature has increased by 1.5 °C since 1910.
- Since 1900, summer/wet season rainfall has increased over most of Queensland, while winter/dry season rainfall has declined.
- The number of days with dangerous weather conditions for bushfires has increased in nearly all locations across the state.
- The number of severe landfalling tropical cyclones near and south of Cairns has declined since the late 19th Century.
The climate of Queensland is projected to continue to change over the coming decades. By mid-century, the following changes are projected:
- Queensland will continue to get hotter into the future.
- Under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5), Queensland can expect an average annual temperature increase of around 1.3-2.5 °C (central estimate of 1.9 °C).
- Large and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions (RCP2.6) reduce projected warming to around 0.7-1.7 °C (central estimate of 1.2 °C).
- The number of hot days (>35 °C) will increase from approximately 2 to 8 days per year in Brisbane and from approximately 4 to 14 days per year in Toowoomba1.
- By mid-century under a high emissions scenario2:
- The climate of Brisbane is projected to be more like the current climate of Mareeba.
- The climate of Cairns is projected to be more like the current climate of Cooktown.
- The climate of Longreach is projected to be more like the current climate of Port Headland (WA).
- Queensland can expect longer fire seasons, with around 40% more very high fire danger days.
- Sea levels are projected to rise by around 26 cm along the coast of Queensland3.
- Extreme rain events in Queensland are projected to become more intense.
- As a whole, Queensland is likely to become drier in the May-October period. Average annual rainfall change is unclear in the monsoon region, with significant change possible. Both wetter and drier futures should therefore be considered.
- The number of tropical cyclones is projected to decrease by about 8% for this region of Australia.
- In the future, east coast lows are projected to decrease by up to 20% under a high emissions scenario, primarily due to a reduction during winter.
Further reading and resources:
- Queensland future climate
- Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub
- Bureau of Meteorology, Climate change – trends and extremes
- State of the Climate (CSIRO & BoM)
- IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, The Physical Science Basis
1 Compares 2036-2065 with 1981-2010. For more information, access the Climate Change in Australia Thresholds Calculator tool.
2 Climate Change in Australia Climate Analogues tool.
3 Average of Queensland coastal council values from CoastAdapt
Page last updated 14th March 2021