Thornthwaite Moisture Index And Climate Zones In The Northern Territory

Stephen D F Jackson


The Thornthwaite Moisture Index (TMI) is an established climate parameter for geotechnical engineers to categorise a site and enable estimation of seasonal ground movements associated with soil moisture changes. TMI assessment and mapping for the Northern Territory are presented, using the TMI calculation method commonly used for similar recent studies elsewhere in Australia. The assessment included the analysis of 17 sites within the Northern Territory and one site in Queensland which has enabled development of Climate Zone classifications. Climate data was obtained from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to calculate the TMI on a ‘year by year’ basis over a target period of 29 years (1990 to 2019). Related work in Queensland (Fox 2002) and Western Australia (Hu et al, 2016) has guided the development of the Northern Territory Climate Zone Map. Further work is required to characterise the soil moisture behaviour in arid zones. A general lack of guidance in AS2870 (2011) for arid areas, including much of the Northern Territory, could be addressed with further research and development.