Australia & New Zealand: Intense deficits to persist along the southeast coast & Tasmania

20 November 2017

The 12-month forecast (below) indicates widespread exceptional deficits in South Australia on the Eyre Peninsula forking northwest and northeast, across the border into New South Wales, and along the coast from Adelaide through Melbourne. Exceptional deficits are also forecast for Tasmania and the southwest tip of Western Australia. Moderate to exceptional deficits are forecast for Victoria, the Murray-Darling Basin in NSW, Queensland’s Channel Country, and New Caledonia.

Moderate to exceptional surpluses are forecast near Bundaberg, Queensland.

When the rains finally arrived along the coast of central Queensland in mid-October after a dry winter, it was too much too fast, flooding millions of dollars' worth of crops and setting a record for the wettest October in some districts. Bundaberg received 335mm (13 inches) in 24 hours, leaving cane and strawberry fields inundated. A subsequent downpour further inland ruined chickpeas, barley, and wheat in nearby Monto. Some farmers are now facing 18 months without income.

Extremely dry conditions in Tasmania are forcing sheep and cattle graziers to implement their drought action plans, including destocking – selling off a portion of stock early – and “agistment” – paying to pasture herds elsewhere. As local creeks dry up, residents have been advised to move pet water bowls inside to discourage the high number of snakes migrating into populated areas.

New Zealand homeowners could see insurance prices double or properties become uninsurable as insurers like IAG move toward climate-change risk evaluation based on individual property rather than community-based risk assessment. Spreading hazard risk across many households can help keep insurance costs down, but climate change is making some hazards like flooding more of a certainty rather than a risk. This year is already the most expensive on record for weather-related claims, reports the Insurance Council.

Climate refugees could get some help in the form of a new humanitarian visa being considered in New Zealand. Though the requirements are yet unclear, up to 100 people a year could be admitted to the country under the new classification, creating a pathway for legal migration.

The 3-month maps (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions.

The extent of exceptional deficits observed in recent months over much of Australia is forecast to diminish considerably in the near-term. However, exceptional deficits are expected to persist in much of Tasmania through January 2018, receding somewhat thereafter, and in the far southwestern tip of Western Australia near Busselton through April. The near-term forecast (through January 2018) also includes lingering severe to exceptional deficits along Australia’s southeastern coast from Adelaide through Victoria, and a vast area of moderate to extreme deficits fanning out from the Eyre Peninsula through central South Australia. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast for eastern New South Wales, with severe deficits in Riverina and extreme deficits near Canberra. Exceptional surpluses are forecast near Bundaberg, Queensland.

From February through April exceptional deficits will begin to diminish in Tasmania but will persist in the southwestern tip of Western Australia, as previously mentioned. Surpluses near Bundaberg are expected to transition to near-normal conditions. Moderate deficits are forecast for much of Queensland, becoming severe to exceptional in the southwest and across the border into northwestern New South Wales and northeastern South Australia. Deficits will continue to emerge in southeastern Australia but are expected to be primarily moderate, but may be more intense along the coast and along the Murray River. Near-normal water conditions are forecast for New Zealand and New Caledonia.

The forecast for the final months, May through July, indicates moderate deficits across northern Australia, the southwestern tip, and in Tasmania.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers. 


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.

For more information contact

Copyright 2019 ISCIENCES, L.L.C. Global Water Monitor & Forecast Watch List is the property of ISCIENCES, L.L.C. It is protected by U.S. copyright laws and may not be reproduced in any way without the written permission of ISCIENCES, L.L.C. The user assumes the entire risk related to its use of information on ISCIENCES, L.L.C. Web pages, including information derived from Water Security Indicators Model (WSIM). This information may include forecasts, projections and other predictive statements that represent ISCIENCES, L.L.C.’s assumptions and expectations in light of currently available information and using the highest professional standards. Actual results may differ from those projected. Consequently, no guarantee is presented or implied as to the accuracy of specific forecasts, projections or predictive statements contained herein. ISCIENCES, L.L.C. provides such information "as is," and disclaims any and all warranties, whether express or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will ISCIENCES, L.L.C. be liable to you or to any third party for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages or lost profit resulting from any use or misuse of this data.