[ASC-media] MEDIA RELEASE - New insights into what's driving Australia's rainfall

Jenni Metcalfe jenni at econnect.com.au
Mon Jul 28 07:35:18 CEST 2008




New insights into what’s driving Australia’s rainfall

For immediate release: Tuesday 29 July 

Australian farmers are one step closer to having regionally-relevant climate
forecasting products thanks to the findings of research into Australia’s
regional climate drivers.

The findings offer new insights into the relationship between large-scale
climate drivers and rainfall patterns in Australia’s major agricultural

“Simply learning that the influence of the Indian Ocean Dipole is mainly
confined to the second half of the calendar year and that it particularly
affects the agricultural regions of southern Australia provides useful
information for farm managers,” says Dr Mike Pook from the Centre for
Australian Weather and Climate Research, which carried out the research. The
Centre is a partnership between CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. 

“If producers see the positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole developing,
for example, then they know that finishing rain in southern Australia is
unlikely to be as good as they might like it to be. This is an additional
influence but it still has an effect.”

The research also found that the effect of the Southern Annular Mode—a
measure of the strength and extent of the westerly winds over the Southern
Ocean—is clearly confined to the south-west of Western Australia in autumn
and the south-west coast of Victoria and western Tasmania in winter.

Dr Pook believes producers who understand rainfall variability associated
with the Southern Annular Mode can make better assessments for their

“Farmers further north in Western Australia need not get upset if the
Southern Annular Mode is positive because it really only reduces rainfall at
the very south-west of the wheat-growing region in Western Australia in
autumn,” he explains.

The one-year project was funded by Managing Climate Variability.

The research also aims to identify current knowledge gaps and develop a
research roadmap for improving seasonal forecasting skill and reliability. 

“What we really need to understand better are the mechanisms linking climate
drivers with rainfall,” says Dr Pook. “How do drivers such as El Niño or the
Indian Ocean Dipole work through the atmosphere to affect seasonal

Dr Pook and his colleagues are already using the findings in a new project
in Western Australia to help improve seasonal forecast models for the
south-west of the state. 

Interview opportunities:

Dr Mike Pook, The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, ph: 03
6232 5228, mob: 0408146152, Mike.Pook at csiro.au, www.cawcr.gov.au

Colin Creighton, Managing Climate Variability, ph: 07 4958 4775
colin.creighton at lwa.gov.au, www.managingclimate.gov.au

Media assistance: 

Mary O’Callaghan, ph: 07 3846 7111, mob: 0419 678 179, mary at econnect.com.au


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