Records show that a severe drought has occurred in Australia, on average, once in every 18 years. However, between 2002 and 2009, the south-east of Australia experienced its worse drought in 125 years. This was attributed to El Niño, where moist trade winds are reversed, so instead of bringing rainfall to Australia they travelled west towards South America, leaving south-east Australia with a lack of rainfall. Some scientists believe climate change exacerbated this drought by also reducing rainfall.
The region most affected was the Murray-Darling River Basin in New South Wales. This area usually provides 75% of Australia's water, 40% of Australia's agricultural produce and is home to nearly 2 million people.
The drought had severe agricultural impacts:
The drought also affected the natural ecosystem: