Australia & New Zealand: Water deficits persist in the North, Tasmania, & North Island (June 29, 2016)

The Big Picture
Water deficits are forecast to linger for the next six months across parts of northern Australia – particularly northernmost regions of the Northern Territory and the southern shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria – and also in the southwest tip of Western Australia; in Tasmania; and on North Island, New Zealand.

Though record-breaking winter rain has arrived in Queensland, Australia, the region needs sustainable water levels says Queensland's Agricultural Minister Leanne Donaldson who remains committed to drought assistance through 2018. Drought has forced graziers in the area to destock, sending cattle up to 300 kilometers away looking for grass.

A "very unusual" weather system produced torrential rains along Australia's east coast in early June. Meteorologists reported that in a 24-hour period widespread rainfalls between 100-200 millimeters (4-7.9 inches) and up to 469 millimeters (28.6 inches) were recorded. Flooding, especially severe in New South Wales, closed several runways at Sydney Airport and shut down power to at least 26,000 homes.

Northern Tasmania was hit by the same system which caused several deaths and damages of $100 million in flooding noted as the worst since 1929. Tassie farmers are considering legal action after learning that the state-owned electricity company initiated cloud-seeding operations in the area just prior to the storm in an effort to raise the water level in local dams.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composite (below) for the same 12-month period shows the evolving conditions in more detail. Deficits across much of Australia are forecast to diminish. However, deficits will continue to emerge in the north and will persist in the southwest tip of Western Australia, in Tasmania, and on North Island, New Zealand through August, and longer in the north and southwest.

Moderate surpluses along the Macquarie and Lachlan Rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin in New South Wales are forecast in August and September. Current surpluses farther north in eastern Queensland are expected to persist, and surpluses are forecast to emerge along the Barcoo River in November.

In North Island, New Zealand exceptional deficits will persist through July. Exceptional and widespread deficits in New Caledonia are forecast to diminish in May and thereafter, but will persist through October. (It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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