New seasonal outlook model warmly welcomed

Date: 24 May 2013

Weather

The introduction by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) of a new model in its three-month seasonal outlooks will provide grain growers with more reliable information to manage climate risk and guide their cropping activities, according to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

The BoM has switched to a dynamical, or physics-based, climate model known as the Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia (POAMA), which replaces the statistical climate model that compared current conditions with historical climate.

The new model, which lays the foundation for further increases in forecast accuracy over the coming decades, has been welcomed by the GRDC and the Managing Climate Variability (MCV) Program, which is administered by the GRDC for a consortium of agricultural industry partners.

The MCV Program, with funding from GRDC and partners, has supported development and evaluation of the new POAMA system which forms the basis of the BoM’s Seasonal Climate Outlooks which are updated each month. POAMA has been refined over more than 10 years of R&D by the BoM and CSIRO.

MCV Program science manager Dr Beverley Henry says the new model will enable the MCV Program to provide grain growers with more reliable intelligence to assist with climate risk management and planning of seasonal activities.

Dr Henry says while statistical-based models still have a role, they are becoming less reliable because of trends in rainfall and temperature patterns in recent years. The new dynamical model combines the physics of the atmosphere, oceans, land and ice to calculate the likely climate conditions across Australia for the next three months.

“The reliability of seasonal forecasts is extremely important for grain growers. Advances in data and computing technology are constantly enhancing the accuracy of the seasonal outlooks, and the new POAMA model is another step forward,” Dr Henry said.

The MCV Program will utilise the new climate model in its provision of information and practical resources for the nation’s grain growers.

The program invests in translating seasonal outlooks into variables that are more relevant to farming, such as soil moisture or frost risk.

Multi-week forecasts – for periods of between two and eight weeks that would be particularly useful at planting time – are also being developed.

Working with the BoM, the MCV Program provides advice on farmer needs such as a wind direction and speed service, which can be accessed through the Climate Kelpie website (www.climatekelpie.com.au) or the Water and the Land website (www.bom.gov.au/watl).

Growers can also access data and a suite of climate analysis tools through CliMate, which is available as an iPhone app and online (www.australianclimate.net.au).

GRDC Senior Manager of Natural Resources, Martin Blumenthal, said the development of improved forecasting services was an investment priority for the GRDC.

“The business of growing grain is subject to so many variables – weather, pests, diseases, and supply and demand – so it is critical that the risks are reduced wherever possible so growers can sow and harvest their crops and manage their enterprises with greater certainty and confidence,” Dr Blumenthal said.

“The GRDC acknowledges that climate variability is having a very real impact in the grain belt and growers need to continually adjust their practices and approach to farming accordingly.

“Greater assurance about what’s in store with the weather will therefore be of enormous value to growers and the broader industry.”

Grain growers wanting more information about new technologies and practices for dealing with climate variability at a local level are encouraged to contact a “Climate Champion” in their region.

The Climate Champion program, funded by the GRDC, MCV Program, Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, has recruited 38 farmers who are all interested in managing risks associated with climate and weather to improve productivity on their farms, and they are keen to share their knowledge with other farmers. For details on how to contact a Climate Champion, visit www.climatekelpie.com.au.

More information about climate and its impact on grain growers is available via the GRDC’s climate resource hub, www.grdc.com.au/climatelinks.

ENDS

Caption:The introduction by the Bureau of Meteorology of a new seasonal outlook model will provide grain growers with more accurate weather outlooks to manage climate risk and guide their cropping activities.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Dr Beverley Henry, MCV Program
0409 343 388

Media Contact

Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

Seasonal Climate Outlook enquiries

Bureau of Meteorology Media
03 9669 4057

GRDC Project Code MCV00015

Region National, North, South, West