A NSW Government website

The NSW Climate

The NSW Climate

Key points

  • The climate across NSW varies from one region to the next. This is because the geography and rainfall patterns across NSW vary, and are influenced differently by how close they are to the ocean or the Great Dividing Range.
  • The NSW climate is warming. Even small average temperature increases can have large impacts on our environments and industries. 
  • Climate change affects all of us, and will affect us differently, depending on where we live.

The NSW climate

NSW has a diverse climate. Climate factors such as temperature, rainfall and humidity vary greatly across the state, based on geography and climate patterns.

NSW climate regions

Some examples of the different climates in NSW include:

  • arid and semi-arid inland regions
  • humid subtropical areas in the north-east
  • temperate coastal regions around Sydney and the Central Coast
  • cooler oceanic regions in the south-east
  • alpine areas in the higher parts of the Great Dividing Range.

Rainfall is often used to categorise and compare climates. In NSW there are 4 distinct climate regions based on rainfall patterns:

  • North-east: higher rainfall in the summer
  • South: higher rainfall in the winter
  • Far west: very low rainfall year-round
  • Other areas: similar rainfall patterns throughout the seasons.

NSW climate influences

There are 2 main geographic influences on the NSW climate:

  • The Tasman Sea in the southern Pacific Ocean helps balance temperatures near the coast. It also contributes to rainfall as water evaporates from the ocean creating moist air which can then fall as rain over the state.
  • The Great Dividing Range blocks the flow of moist air coming from the Tasman Sea. This creates rain over the range and reduces the amount of rainfall in inland regions west of the range.

Larger scale climate drivers also influence the NSW climate, the main ones are the:

These oceanic systems change the NSW climate over time, from shorter changes over a few weeks to longer changes over decades.

Human activities also influence the NSW climate, mainly through the production of greenhouse gases. These gases come from activities such as burning fossil fuels and are a by-product of some industries such as agriculture and transport.

How the NSW climate is changing

The NSW climate has been gradually warming since the 1960s. Australia's average temperature has warmed by 1.4 ± 0.24°C since 1910 when national records began.

Australia’s warmest year on record was 2019, with the temperature 1.52°C above average. This may not seem like a big difference. But even very small changes in our regional temperatures can have big impacts.

Increased temperatures and associated climate change are having huge impacts on NSW, including:

This can affect people differently, depending on where they live. For example, various areas in Sydney will warm differently. The greatest impact is projected to happen in Western Sydney, which is expected to experience 5–10 additional hot days by 2030 than it had in 2018. 

These changes affect NSW industries, environments and people. Climate change is also challenging our communities, and putting more demands on emergency management, health services and agriculture.

Related information

Why do we have different climates across Australia? - Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)

Bureau of Meteorology Blog - Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)

NSW weather and warnings - Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)

NSW State of the Environment Report - NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Climate change in Australia: projections for selected Australian cities - Academic paper