The Science Division of the Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts (DSITIA) considers that, for most of Queensland, there is an increased likelihood of below-median July to September rainfall, with a similar outlook for the coming summer (November to March 2014/15). Read more (PDF, 328K, last updated 11:30AM, 10 July 2014)*
DSITIA’s rainfall outlooks for Queensland are based on the current and projected state of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon and on factors which alter the impact of ENSO on Queensland rainfall (i.e. the more slowly changing extra-tropical sea surface temperature (SST) pattern in the Pacific Ocean).
At this time of year, and over the coming months, the prevailing ENSO pattern (as measured by indices such as the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) or central equatorial Pacific Ocean SST anomalies) offers a useful basis for providing seasonal outlooks for winter, spring and summer.
For most of Queensland, an increased likelihood of below-median July to September rainfall is supported by several well-known climate models (e.g. Bureau of Meteorology, ECMWF, International Research Institute–USA and the Meteorological Office–UK).
What if an El Niño develops this year?
Currently, 75 per cent of Queensland remains drought declared under State Government processes. The high probability of an El Niño event developing in coming months, and with it the threat of another dry summer for some regions, poses a risk of current drought conditions becoming more protracted. This risk should be factored into decision making and allocation of resources. In this context, DSITIA’s long-lead outlook for summer rainfall (next page) should be taken into consideration.
Outlook for summer rainfall
DSITIA scientists have shown that extra-tropical SST anomalies, when measured in specific regions of the Pacific Ocean in March, provide a useful basis for long-lead forecasting of summer rainfall in Queensland. This outlook can be modified, with increasing accuracy, as the monthly ENSO-related SST pattern is also taken into account from June to November.
This understanding has been incorporated in an experimental system known as SPOTA-1 (Seasonal Pacific Ocean Temperature Analysis version 1), which has been operationally evaluated by DSITIA scientists for over a decade.
Currently, DSITIA’s long-lead outlook for summer rainfall indicates a high probability of below-average rainfall for most of Queensland over the coming summer (November to March 2014/15) and, conversely, a very low probability of widespread drought-breaking rainfall. This outlook will be updated on a monthly basis until November, with accuracy increasing each month.
In summary, it should be noted that:
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