About this report

Climate extremes already affect many facets of Australian society including health, soil and water, agriculture, infrastructure, energy security and financial security, posing significant risks to the global and Australian economy.

Our region will face more and more intense extremes in the future, even with rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

This report provides a summary of the significant extreme weather and climate events which occurred in 2022 across Australia and Antarctica. The report provides a description of each event and an explanation which reflects our understanding of the causes. Our research continues to learn more about these events.

This report has been prepared to assist policy makers and the general public understand the complexity and nature of the climate extremes we are experiencing.

2022 in summary

A third consecutive La Niña contributed to severe rainfall and flooding across Eastern Australia.

Australia’s hottest temperature was recorded in the coastal town of Onslow, Western Australia.

Weather and climate extremes had disastrous impacts on socioeconomic systems.

Australia experienced a year of record-breaking extreme events in 2022 with extreme rain and flooding overshadowing all other events. Second and third consecutive La Niña events dominated the weather and climate across eastern Australia. The three successive phases in La Niña contributed to persistent, heavy rainfall breaking multiple daily, monthly and yearly flood and rainfall records.

While La Niña promoted cooler and damper conditions in the east of the country, Australia still equalled its highest temperature ever in Western Australia. Regionally records also fell for extreme heat in the Antarctic which had a significant year of ice melt.

Record high levels of carbon dioxide in 2022

In May 2022, atmospheric carbon dioxide hit the highest level in over 4 million years, reaching 421 parts per million.

Extreme weather and climate events in 2022

Heatwaves in Western Australia

  • Western Australia experienced a series of heatwaves in December 2021 – January 2022.
  • The coastal town of Onslow, Western Australia, equalled Australia’s hottest day at 50.7°C.

Extreme rainfall and flooding in Queensland and New South Wales February-March 2022

  • Rainfall was 5 times the February monthly average for some areas of south-eastern Queensland and eastern New South Wales.
  • Over 500 millimetres of rain fell during a two-week period in March 2022.
  • The flooding caused loss of life and an estimated AU$3.35 billion in insured losses.

Record low Antarctic sea ice extent in 2022

  • Record low values of sea ice extent in Antarctic in 2022.
  • Implications for local marine life, the food chain and ice sheet melt.

Simultaneous Antarctic and Arctic heatwaves

  • Two record-breaking heatwaves occurred simultaneously in the Antarctic and Arctic.
  • Temperatures reached about 40°C above normal.

Collapse of East Antarctic Conger ice shelf

  • The 1200 square km Conger ice shelf collapsed in March 2022.
  • The collapse of an ice shelf is a rare event.

Coldsnap in Queensland

  • Many regions in Queensland recorded the lowest ever maximum temperature for July.
  • Toowoomba in southern Queensland had its coldest July day on record reaching 7.6°C on the 4th.

Sydney’s wettest year on record

  • Sydney experienced its wettest year on record in 2022.
  • Three weather events were responsible for 40% of the total rainfall in 2022.

An “inland tsunami” hits Eugowra

  • River levels peaked at a record breaking 11.2 metres after 120mm of rain on 13 November 2022.
  • On November 14th 2022, Eugowra in New South Wales was hit by a devastating one-in-5000-year flash flooding event.

Hailstorms in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales

  • Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales all experienced damaging hail events in the 2022 storm seasons.
  • Reported damage included potato, citrus, and grape crops with some growers losing 30-50% of their crops.

Northern Australia heatwave

  • Northern Australia experienced extreme temperatures during December, with mid to high 40s in many locations.
  • The extreme temperatures are unusual for tropical regions.

Damaging wind gusts in South Australia and the Northern Territory

  • Severe winds impacted parts of South Australia and the Northern Territory On the 12th of November 2022.
  • Damage included failure of transmission lines in South Australia and damage to buildings, including the removal of a roof off of a school in the Northern Territory.

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This report is also available as a PDF.

To contact us about the report, email clex@unsw.edu.au