The Science Division of the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) considers that, for most of Queensland, the probability of a wet summer (November to March 2015/16) is currently lower than normal, based on DSITI’s analysis of tropical and extra-tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The shorter term outlook for winter (June to August) indicates near normal, or slightly lower than normal, probabilities of rainfall being above median for most of Queensland. Read more (PDF, 357K, last updated 11:12AM, 11 June 2015)*
DSITI’s seasonal 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 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 SOI or central equatorial Pacific Ocean SST anomalies) begins to offer a useful basis for providing seasonal outlooks for winter, spring and summer.
What if the El Niño continues to develop?
Currently, more than 80 per cent of Queensland remains drought declared under state government processes. For autumn (March to May), rainfall was well-below average (less than the 20th percentile) across parts of northern, central and western Queensland. The high probability of the current El Niño event developing further over winter and spring, 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, DSITI’s long-lead outlook for summer rainfall should be taken into consideration.
Seasonal rainfall outlook (Jun-Aug 2015)
An analysis of rainfall probabilities as at 1 June, based on the SOI being in a ‘Rapidly Falling’ phase indicates, for most of Queensland, a 40 to 50 per cent probability of exceeding median rainfall over the next three-month period (June to August), with lower probabilities in some inland southern regions.
Summer rainfall outlook (Nov-Mar 2015/16)
DSITI scientists have shown that extra-tropical SST anomalies, when measured in specific regions of the Pacific Ocean in March each year, provide a useful basis for long-lead forecasting of summer (November to March) rainfall in Queensland. The accuracy of this outlook increases as the evolving ENSO-related SST pattern is also taken into account from May through to October. 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 DSITI scientists for over a decade.
As at 1 June 2015, DSITI’s updated long-lead outlook for the coming summer (November to March 2015/16) indicates a lower than normal probability of exceeding median rainfall for most of Queensland, mostly due to warmer than average SSTs in the central equatorial Pacific.
DSITI’s long-lead outlook for summer rainfall will be reassessed in July, and then updated monthly until November, by factoring in further developments in ENSO conditions.
It should be noted that:
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