New ‘extreme weather event’ forecasting tools on the way

James Nason, 06/07/2020

WEATHER and climate forecasting has come a long way in recent decades thanks to the development of super computers, but livestock producers still need tailored systems to convert the raw data provided into practical, actionable insights.

Doug McNicholl

A recent webinar hosted by the University of Melbourne highlighted some of the tools producers now have access to, developed from industry funding, including the Climate Kelpie website and CliMate website and app.

It also drew attention to new extreme weather event forecasting tools for producers currently under development and expected to be available by 2022.

Facilitated by Prof Richard Eckard, the webinar included a comprehensive presentation from Meat & Livestock Australia’s Doug McNicholl.

Mr McNicholl explained some of the tools now available to livestock producers that have been developed from the long-running Managing Climate Variability R&D Program.

These include the Climate Kelpie website, a national forecast information reservoir that gives producers access to wide range of predictions from publicly available websites.

Additionally, the CliMate website and mobile app offers question focused analyses for exploration of weather data across Australia. Among other things, it allows producers to check historic trends for their specific location and compare that with the current season.

It also shows the percentile value of the current season relative to other years selected and provides an indication of how the current season is tracking against the average – as depicted in the below example:

It also allows producers to analyse different questions such as how often certain events occur,

whether nitrate should be applied to crops, potential yield estimates, the historical context of current temperatures etc

Forewarned is Forearmed

Mr McNicholl said considerable use is made of 1-7 day weather forecasts, but there is no information on the chance of extreme events in the weeks or seasons ahead.

Since 2017 work has been underway through the Forewarned is Forearmed Rural R&D for Profit project to develop the first forecasts of extreme climate events, weeks to seasons ahead, with the aim of decreasing their economic, social and environmental impact.

The project will run through to 2022, by which time at least five new extreme events forecast products that will be made available on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

The forecast products are based on the BOM’s ACCESS S seasonal forecast system.

In addition to the project will provide extreme event risk management plans for the contributing ag industries, which are red meat, dairy, wine, grains, sugar, pork, rice and cotton.

Interested producers are also being invited to join a “Community of Practice” to help in the design of the new products.

Mr McNicholl said the tools will improve the ability to predict extreme events within known confidence intervals and within the limitations of current modelling and data collection used to inform the models.

“It is the role of these investments to provide forecasts with a level of confidence that end users can understand and factor into their decision making,” he said.

A prototype example of some of the information extreme event forecasting tools are being developed to provide:

For more information on the Forewarned is Forearmed project the following contact details are available:



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