Soil moisture reached extremely low values in the southeast, and poor soil conditions contributed to dust storms.
Soils were extremely dry. Nationally, top 6m moisture availability fell by 30 mm to the lowest value since at least 2000: 11% less than the previous year and 11% below the 2000–2018 average.
Soil moisture declined nearly everywhere, with the sharpest declines in northeast NSW and the Kimberley. Soil moisture increased in parts of Queensland and central NSW.
Soils across southeast Australia dried up rapidly after July, due to unusually dry and warm conditions in winter and spring.
Northern Australia experienced unusually dry conditions due to a weak 2018/19 monsoon and late arrival of 2019/20 monsoon.
Northern Queensland experienced above-average soil moisture conditions due to high rainfall in February-March.
Soil protection by vegetation and leaf litter deteriorated across most of Australia and fell to levels not seen since 2000. Soil exposure was 10% greater than the previous year and 13% greater than the 2000–2018 average.
Extremely poor soil protection occurred in inland Australia; with the worst conditions since at least 2000 in most of NSW, southern Queensland and northwest Australia.
Exposed and dry soils caused several dust storms, in February in southeast Australia, April in SA, May in Victoria and November in NSW.
source: Australia’s Environment in 2019 Summary Report (link)