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ARTICLES >> Environment Weather Watch

Weather Watch - February 2011

Posted by Bestprac on Feb 02 2011

by Susan Carn

As I write, the air-conditioner is battling to work effectively as outside it’s pushing 45 degrees. Still, I shouldn’t complain as this is our first real hot spell all summer. That is very different to last Summer here in SA. So it was interesting to read the Bureau of Meteorology Annual Australian Climate Statement for 2010. The main points are:

  • La Niña event brings Australia’s third-wettest year on record.
  • Prolonged dry conditions continue in southwest Western Australia
  • Australia’s coolest year since 2001
  • Australia’s warmest 10 years on record

It makes for very interesting reading - follow this link.

Annual statements for all Australian States are available at this website.  





So what will 2011 bring? The scientists at JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) have just released their early prediction which is: “This La Nina event might be long-lasting and persist till early 2012.” But wait, there’s more! “In the second half of 2011, a weak negative IOD might occur again.”

Before I go on, a quick recap: The IOD stands for Indian Ocean Dipole. The IOD compares the water temperatures in the eastern and western Indian Ocean. When the eastern Indian Ocean is warm and the western Indian Ocean is cold, an IOD negative event occurs and is thought to be associated with wetter conditions in parts of Australia. IOD positive is associated with dryer conditions.

Now, this predicted combination of a La Nina with a weak negative IOD is what we had last year! The last time this happened was in 1975!

Unfortunately, JAMSTEC also say “More precipitation/floods would occur in Australia, South Africa, and northeastern Brazil in early 2011.”

Early last year JAMSTEC rightly predicted our current floods, so this is rather concerning news.

I have found that if I understand what is driving a weather pattern, then I feel better equipped to plan for a possible event well in advance, and “get my head around it”!

The Victorian Department of Primary Industries have an update on the “Climate Dogs” on their “Understanding Weather and Climate” webpage.

Some interesting facts from this are:

  • The 2006 drought had a combination event of El Nino, Indian Ocean Dipole positive and Southern Annular Mode positive. The bigger droughts are when these Climate Drivers (Dogs!) team up at the driest end of their range.
  • The Indian Ocean Dipole was in positive phase (drier) for 2006, 2007 and 2008.....and we haven't had a good IOD negative since the 1990's (ie 1992, 1993 & 1996 were all IOD negative)
  • In 2010 the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) hit some records for how far south it went and this is one aspect that explains Western Australia's dry season. It didn't significantly affect Victoria or South Australia as the LaNina & IOD negative trumped it.

I strongly recommend that you take a look at the “Climate Dogs” videos if you haven’t already, as they are an entertaining way of learning about what drives our climate and weather patterns.

As I swelter, cyclones are formed off the coasts of Queensland and WA. So although my garden could do with a bit of ex-cyclone rain, I don’t wish more floods on anyone.

A good site to view weather systems and track their likely movements over the next 7 days can be found on the BOM website under Interactive Weather & Wave Forecast Maps and click on the forward arrow.

Next month I hope to have an inkling on what our cropping and stocking plans will be, so until then – stay cool!

Last changed: Feb 09 2012



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