Murray-Darling Basin in ‘most severe’ two-to-three year drought conditions in 120 years of records, BOM says

ABC Weather 
By Kate Doyle
Sheep in a dusty paddock
The drought is dragging on in the Murray-Darling Basin, and spring is unlikely to break it.
Instagram: zarakphotography, file photo

Every drought is different, but when it comes to the current drought conditions across the Murray-Darling Basin, BOM says it is now “the most severe in 120 years of records”.

Key points:

  • Climatologists say that the Federation drought (1891-1903) and the World War II drought were similar to current conditions
  • Not everywhere across the Murray-Darling is experiencing its record-worst drought conditions
  • Just to provide relief, not even to break the drought, BOM says some places would need record high rainfall over the next three months

In a presentation on Thursday, climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Dr David Jones, said that the Federation drought (1891-1903) and the World War II drought were similar to this one.

“The general picture across the Murray-Darling Basin, for droughts lasting two to three years, this is the most severe we’ve now seen in terms of the rainfall totals and probably also in terms of the general runoff into dams,” he said.

The variable nature of droughts makes them hard to compare as everyone experiences drought differently, and not everywhere is currently experiencing its worst drought.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.