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ARTICLES >> Environment Weather Watch

Weather Watch - January 2011

Posted by Bestprac on Jan 02 2011

by Susan Carn


As this is the first Weather Watch for the year, I thought I’d explain what this column is all about.

First some background: My family run a Merino sheep enterprise at Quorn in the upper north of SA. My interest in weather began in the dry ‘90’s and ‘00’s! I came up with a list of websites which I use to help us with our farm decisions.

For example, in March I start to monitor the seasonal forecasts issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), as well as ones from climate scientists from around the world. I use these to see what the chances of success are for putting in some crop, as well as getting a “heads up” for our stocking rates.

I’m also one of 34 Australian farmers in the Climate Champion Program, where I have access to the latest climate research and on-farm adaptation methods for coping with climate variability. The program then helps us pass on this knowledge to other farmers.

In the Weather Watch articles I hope to pass on what I learn, as well as keeping you informed of the latest climate indicators for the coming months. I will also include useful website addresses that you can click straight into and get to know these sites for yourself.

Australia is a big place, with different Climate Drivers, affecting different places, in different ways. An example of this is how the La Nina weather phenomenon caused the huge rainfalls in the eastern states, while WA remained in drought due in part to another driver called the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Over the year I will endeavour to explain all of these drivers and their potential impacts.

Weather Watch is part blog as well, where I will impart what the Carn’s are up to and what drivers I am currently observing. So what are we up to? Well, we got over a very storm interrupted harvest relatively unscathed. We are so thankful for this as we realise others in our own state, and of course the eastern states were not so lucky.

This is a prime example of how we really do live in a variable climate, and as farmers we live by the whims of the sky! I believe that if we have an understanding of weather systems, and observe and take on-board the findings of the forecast scientists, then we can make plans. However, having a plan doesn’t mean it is set in concrete. Weather related plans should be flexible. I use forecasts as a guide – or a “vibe”!

But I believe knowing and monitoring the Climate Drivers will give you an “edge”! For instance, knowing the likely outcomes if two Climate Drivers are in sync with each other. This is what happened in 2010 with the combination of a La Nina and a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). I knew that the chances for SA having above average rainfall in winter and spring were very good. A good vibe!

However, it also meant there was a possibility of a wet harvest, so our plan was to get the crop off as soon as possible. So we decided to have two headers going (except for the usual occasional mechanical breakdown) and the crop was off quickly – in between the storms! This turned out to be a great plan: knowing what to expect saved us from having those other breakdowns – mental!

And what of 2011?
The APEC Climate Center in Korea forecast for Jan/Feb/March says Australia is expected to receive above normal rainfall.



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Last changed: Feb 09 2012



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