Australian rainfall trends and their relation to the southern oscillation index

R. K. Chowdhury, S. Beecham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


Rainfall is the key climate variable that governs the spatial and temporal availability of water. In this study we identified monthly rainfall trends and their relation to the southern oscillation index (SOI) at ten rainfall stations across Australia covering all state capital cities. The nonparametric Mann-Kendall (MK) test was used for identifying significant trends. The trend free pre-whitening approach (TFPW) was used to remove the effects of serial correlation in the dataset. The trend beginning year was approximated using the cumulative summation (CUSUM) technique and the influence of the SOI was identified using graphical representations of the wavelet power spectrum (WPS). Decreasing trends of rainfall depth were observed at two stations, namely Perth airport for June and July rainfall starting in the 1970s and Sydney Observatory Hill for July rainfall starting in the 1930s. No significant trends were found in the Melbourne, Alice Springs and Townsville rainfall data. The remaining five stations showed increasing trends of monthly rainfall depth. The SOI was found to explain the increasing trends for the Adelaide (June) and Cairns (April) rainfall data and the decreasing trends for Sydney (July) rainfall. Other possible climatic factors affecting Australian rainfall are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-514
Number of pages11
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Mann-Kendall test
  • Rainfall
  • Southern oscillation Index
  • Trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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