|Finding Out About...|
|Australia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates|
(Click to see temperature and rainfall graphs)
Most of Australia's population lives in the climatically more favoured eastern, southern, and southwestern coastal areas. Between half and two-thirds of the country is desert or scrubland with a low and unreliable rainfall, and this region is almost uninhabited. Nearly half of Australia lies within the tropics.
The greater part of Australia consists of flat or gently undulating plains 150-600 m/500-2,000 ft above sea level. The east coast is backed by an almost continuous range of hills or mountains which are highest on the border between New South Wales and Victoria in the south. Here the Snowy Mountains include the highest peak in Australia at 2,225 m/7,300 ft. This is the only part of the country to experience significant snowfall, and even here the snow does not lie throughout the year.
For much of the year the east coast is exposed to the persistent and regular southeast trade winds blowing off the Pacific, and this is the wettest part of the country. To the west of these eastern highlands rainfall decreases towards the interior, which is desert.
Central Australia is situated in the latitude of the persistent subtropical anticyclonic belt and this is another reason for its dryness. In this respect it resembles the Sahara and Kalahari deserts of Africa, though it is not quite as rainless as the Sahara.
The wettest districts of Australia form a crescent around the 'dry heart' of the country. In the north and northeast, where temperatures are tropical, rainfall follows the sun and there is a very clear maximum fall at the time of high sun between November and April. At this season winds on the north coast are from the northwest: the Australian monsoon, the counterpart of the outblowing Asiatic winter monsoon. These winds have become hot and humid as they cross the equatorial seas around Indonesia and the Philippines.
The east and southeast coasts of Australia get rain at all seasons, with rather more in the summer. The south and southwest coasts of South and Western Australia are affected by westerly cyclonic disturbances during the cooler winter season and have their maximum rainfall at this time. The desert region reaches the coast between 18° and 30° S on the west coast and between 125° and 135° E on the south coast so that the wetter coastal fringe of the country is not continuous.
Much of Australia is warm or hot throughout the year, and even along the cooler southern coasts the winters are mild rather than cold. Only Tasmania, which is in the same latitude as New Zealand, has a temperate climate comparable with that of Britain or northwest Europe. Very high temperatures may occasionally occur almost anywhere in Australia when winds blow out from the interior and 'import' the high temperatures and low humidity of the interior desert to the coastal regions.
Only Tasmania escapes such extremes of heat; it also has abundant rain around the year. The combination of prolonged heat waves and drought is one of the main climatic hazards of much of Australia and is the main cause of the bush fires, which may rage for days.
Tropical cyclones, similar to the typhoons of the North Pacific and South China Sea, occur two or three times each year in the seas to the northeast and northwest of Australia. The northern part of the Queensland coast and the north and west coasts from Darwin southwards are affected by the torrential rain and sometimes by the very high winds near the storm centre. On the northwest coast of Australia these storms go by the Australian Aboriginal name of 'willy-willies'.
Because much of the country is fairly low and flat, contrasts of weather and climate are gradual and there are few sharp local changes. For a more detailed description the country can be divided into four climatic regions (in addition to Tasmania which is more temperate in climate): the tropical regional of the north and northeast, southeastern Australia, southern and western Australia, and the desert and semi-arid regions of central Australia.
These climatic regions rarely coincide with state boundaries. Only Victoria and Tasmania, the two smallest states, do not include part of the dry interior.
Kuwait is one of the largest of the smaller states of the Arabian peninsula. It has land borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia and a coastline on The Gulf.
It is a low-lying desert country where the average annual rainfall is about 125 mm/5 in. Most rain falls between November and March and there are very few rainy days.
Winter temperatures are mild and only occasionally does it feel cold, when northerly or northwesterly winds bring cold air from Iran or Iraq. Summers are uniformly hot and temperatures can rise very high when hot winds blow from the heart of Arabia. On the coast temperatures are a little lower than inland but the heat is rendered even more uncomfortable by the high humidity.
Another unpleasant feature of the weather is the occasional sandstorm when strong winds blow from the interior. As in other parts of Arabia there is some danger of heat exhaustion or even heatstroke during the hottest weather, and visitors should take sensible precautions until they have become acclimatised.
This small Arab country consists of a low-lying peninsula on the north coast of Saudi Arabia. It is surrounded by the waters of The Gulf on three sides. It has a climate similar to that of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
It is very hot and rainless from May until September, with occasional showery rain during the rest of the year.
Winter temperatures are mild to warm and the weather is then generally sunny and pleasant. Summers are often unpleasantly hot with some danger of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Conditions on the coast are made even more unpleasant by the high humidity which more than cancels the slightly lower temperatures.
Most of the country is flat and consists of a sandy or rocky desert. Annual rainfall is very low and mostly occurs between November and March. Temperatures are very high between May and September and warm to mild for the rest of the year. Winters are warmer than in Kuwait or the interior of Saudi Arabia.Summer conditions are most unpleasant on the coast where humidity is high. Both inland and on the coast there is some danger of heat exhaustion and heatstroke during the hottest weather.