BOM offers new climate tool for farmers

By Melissa Coade

Wednesday November 3, 2021

David Littleproud
Minister for agriculture and northern Australia David Littleproud. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

A climate outlook tool that will provide Australia’s agricultural sector with information about unseasonal and extreme weather events beyond the seven-day forecast has been launched by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Designed for the government’s research and development project known as ‘Forewarned is Forearmed’, the tool has been created in partnership with researchers, industry sectors and the BOM. The outlook map can be accessed via the bureau website, and its parameters refined by selecting a ‘chance of extremes’ button on the left-hand side. 

Agriculture minister David Littleproud said the project recognised the increasing importance of information about geographic-specific seasonal information for primary producers. 

“The tool will allow people to drill down and see what may be in store for their local area,” Littleproud said.

“The user-friendly maps show the likelihood of conditions such as unusually hot or cold temperatures or unusually high or low rainfall in the weeks, months and seasons ahead for specific, highly localised areas.”

The BOM’s latest four-month climate outlook forecasts a ‘new chance of extreme climate outlooks’, with rainfall in the top 20% of historical records being 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely for November 2021 to January 2022 across eastern and central Australia. For eastern parts of NSW, Victoria and NSW, as well as inland southern Queensland, unusually high rainfall will be 2.0 to 2.5 times as likely.

In a statement, environment minister Sussan Ley explained that on-the-ground inputs fed into the BOM’s new tool. 

“We are committed to providing the agricultural sector with important weather and climate information – whether it be short-term forecasts or seasonal climate outlooks,” Ley said. 

“We are now offering the best of both worlds and importantly – they are free, easy to access and easy to use.”

Littleproud added that farmers had already trialled the tool and reported that the data was helpful in anticipating climate conditions, planning for when to purchase or apply fertiliser, as well as crop planning and making decisions about stocking rates. 

Industry reference groups from the dairy, red meat, grains, sugar and wine sectors were invited to participate in the development of the outlook tool.


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