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ARTICLES >> Environment Weather Watch

Weather Watch - September 2011

Posted by Bestprac on Sep 08 2011

by Susan Carn

As I type we’re in the last days of shearing. Always the busiest time of year for me as I multi-task as cook, overseer of woolclassing, and go-fer!

Someone asked me the other day why I put so much effort into weather forecasting. I said that over the years I had proved it made, or at least saved me money and that for my peace of mind it’s great to have a rough idea of what’s coming.

Sometimes though, Mother Nature throws a curved ball. This year, although the signs were for an “average” season, August began with several days with strong north winds and around 30 degrees! It was followed by some welcome rain but, as we have just found out, the damage was done. During a crop inspection this week we were shocked to find the wheat was already out in head. So in effect the crop has already run its race.

We know we live in a marginal cropping area, but it really is getting increasingly harder to grow a decent crop. On the other hand, our grazing country looks magnificent and the sheep and wool this year are proof of that. So we have decided to rethink the cropping part of our property, and probably only sow a big acreage in years when the signs are pointing to it being above average.

We seem to be getting more and more of these hot windy events in August, to the detriment of our crops. This is a truly worrying signal that seasonal temperature, in my part of the world, is definitely changing. So I did some research, using the BOM Water and the Land website, under the Climate Change Trends section. I found that my part of SA has been in a warming trend since 1970, for winter, and a profound warming in spring. It is worthwhile having a play around on this part of the website to see what the trends are for your patch. Go to http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/trendmaps.cgi  

It was a real pleasure to speak at the National Bestprac Forum last month. I hope that those who attended were inspired to have a go at using climate data from the internet in their decision making. At the end of the first day I was able to mix with the attendees, in small groups, and had quite a few groups quiz me about climate change. I realised that I need to learn a lot more on this subject.

I have come across a great booklet on climate change, which easily explains the facts and myths surrounding this important, but emotive, subject. It is titled “The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers”, by the Australian Academy of Science. I like the way it explains how the Earth’s climate has changed in the distant past, as well as in the recent past. I also like that it admits that some aspects of climate science are still quite uncertain at present. All in all, a very balanced and most informative read. You can download a copy or order a free copy from http://www.science.org.au/policy/climatechange.html

The latest seasonal forecasts for spring are a bit contradictory: The BOM has SA dryer than average, QLD above average, and lucky south west WA well above average. Some overseas models agree, while others see it as average for most of Australia, except for northern Australia, which one has very wet and another as very dry!

I’ll be at the Paskeville Field Days on a stand for the Climate Champion Program, PIRSA tent. Visit me if you’re there!
 

Last changed: Feb 09 2012

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