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ARTICLES >> Environment Weather Watch

Weather Watch - March 2012

Posted by Bestprac on Mar 01 2012

by Susan Carn (Hawker/Blinman Bestprac Group)

Gosh it’s autumn already! Summer was cooler and a bit wetter than usual here, which was a nice change. This can be attributed to the current La Niña. During La Niña phases, temperatures tend to be below normal, particularly over northern and eastern parts of Australia. The cooling is relatively strongest during the October to March period.

La Nina is expected to decay in autumn and, in fact, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has dipped from +9.6 at the end of January to +3 as I type today. (La Nina = values consistently around +7 and higher)

March is the month where I begin to monitor the many different seasonal forecast models from around the world. From these I get an idea of how the year might pan out in terms of rainfall and temperature. This helps us with early planning for any crops we might sow, as well as sheep numbers, as our aim is to minimize costly cropping mistakes and look after our sheep and land.

So this year the very early signs for SA are pointing towards it being not too bad!
The Bureau of Meteorology experimental model POAMA is suggesting cooler than average temperatures for the next 3 months. As for rainfall, they have March as being wetter than average (also for Vic and parts of NSW), April average (quite wet for WA), but May a bit below average.

The models from Europe and the USA have predictions for up to 6 months and these all agree on an average outlook.

The Japanese model has March and April as cool and wet, but May as dryer. June, July and August they see as average rainfall but warmer than average temperatures. Their predictions go out as far as September, October and November which they see as being a bit wetter than average but cool.

However, the Korean model has most of Australia having above average rainfall for the next 3 months!

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is predicted to turn weakly negative in early winter and peak in spring. During a negative phase, there are warmer than average sea surface temperatures (SST's) near Indonesia and cooler than average SST's in the western Indian Ocean (Africa), resulting in more westerly winds across the Indian Ocean, greater convection near Australia, and enhanced rainfall in the Australian region.

This year it is predicted the weak negative IOD could bring more rainfall over Indonesia. Warmer-than-normal SST is expected to persist west of Australia in following seasons. So this could mean a good winter and spring.

There is a new website worth checking out called Agri Climate Culture where you can source:

  • Australian and international research news
  • Research into climate change and adaptation
  • Funding available for adaptation and mitigation
  • The Climate Champion Program
  • ... and watch videos on climate science and policy

If you have a spare minute check out this brief but excellent animated video explaining the difference between weather variations and long term climate trends.

Last changed: Mar 02 2012

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