Led by Andy Pitman & Michael Roderick

Will the frequency, intensity or duration of Australian droughts increase in the future?

By delivering a program of research, backed by large scale scientific activity that integrates land, atmosphere and ocean scientists, we will understand the behavior of droughts to inform decision makers on strategies to increase national resilience and assess potential mitigation strategies.

We will use the Millennium Drought as a test case because we do not know its causes, why it lasted so long or why it was so intense.

We do know climate models do not simulate drought of an equivalent spatial and temporal extent. We seek to understand the mechanisms linked to drought and improve the ACCESS model so that these processes are properly simulated. The aim of this Research Program is therefore:


To determine the processes controlling the frequency, intensity and duration of drought in Australia in the past, present and future.

Image (left): Lake Hume at 4% by Tim J Keegan (CC BY-SA 2.0).

We will undertake four related projects:

  • Project 3.1: Large-scale climate processes that influence drought
  • Project 3.2: Quantifying millennial-scale drought using observations and models: are recent changes unusual and are future projections unprecedented?
  • Project 3.3: The role of land-atmosphere feedbacks during drought onset, persistence and termination
  • Project 3.4: Vegetation and hydrology interactions with drought

CLEX Research programs

Extreme rainfall

Heatwaves and cold air outbreaks


Climate variability and teleconnections