Insights From CMIP6 for Australia's Future Climate

M. R. Grose, S. Narsey, F. P. Delage, A. J. Dowdy, M. Bador, G. Boschat, C. Chung, J. B. Kajtar, S. Rauniyar, M. B. Freund, K. Lyu, H. Rashid, X. Zhang, S. Wales, C. Trenham, N. J. Holbrook, T. Cowan, L. Alexander, J. M. Arblaster, S. Power

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Outputs from new state-of-the-art climate models under the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) promise improvement and enhancement of climate change projections information for Australia. Here we focus on three key aspects of CMIP6: what is new in these models, how the available CMIP6 models evaluate compared to CMIP5, and their projections of the future Australian climate compared to CMIP5 focussing on the highest emissions scenario. The CMIP6 ensemble has several new features of relevance to policymakers and others, for example, the integrated matrix of socioeconomic and concentration pathways. The CMIP6 models show incremental improvements in the simulation of the climate in the Australian region, including a reduced equatorial Pacific cold tongue bias, slightly improved rainfall teleconnections with large-scale climate drivers, improved representation of atmosphere and ocean extreme heat events, as well as dynamic sea level. However, important regional biases remain, evident in the excessive rainfall over the Maritime Continent and rainfall pattern biases in the nearby tropical convergence zones. Projections of Australian temperature and rainfall from the available CMIP6 ensemble broadly agree with those from CMIP5, except for a group of CMIP6 models with higher climate sensitivity and greater warming and increase in some extremes after 2050. CMIP6 rainfall projections are similar to CMIP5, but the ensemble examined has a narrower range of rainfall change in austral summer in Northern Australia and austral winter in Southern Australia. Overall, future national projections are likely to be similar to previous versions but perhaps with some areas of improved confidence and clarity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019EF001469
Number of pages24
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Australia
  • Climate change
  • CMIP6
  • regional projections

Cite this