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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • rainfall;
  • trend analysis;
  • southern oscillation index;
  • Mann–Kendall test

Abstract

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. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.