Australia & New Zealand: Water deficits persist in Darwin, Tasmania, Perth, New Caledonia

26 June 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month composite map (below) presents some areas of severe to exceptional deficits throughout most of Australia’s Northern Territory, in Perth and its hinterlands in southern Western Australia, and over the balance of Tasmania, as well as New Caledonia.

Surpluses are forecast for small pockets of the Northern Territory as well as the central coastal region of Queensland extending from just west of Bundaberg to inland MacKay.

Impacts
Rainfall deficiencies over the past three months in western West Australia continue to be of concern to the agricultural sector, with good reason: 35 percent of the country’s wheat and 48 percent of its canola is grown in Western Australia. With the west facing drought, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences is predicting that the nation's canola production will be 11 percent below the previous five-year average and wheat production 8 percent below.

A recent downpour near Perth failed to alleviate fears. The West Australia Farmer's Federation says the drought has affected 5,000 farm businesses in the region. The Regional Men's Health Initiative has responded with mental health outreach events in dry areas of the wheat belt.

Growers in South Australia's Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas are also concerned about lack of rainfall, and nearby Adelaide recorded its driest start to winter in 45 years.

Heavy precipitation in the form of rain and snow hit New Zealand. In the Far North region of North Island, rainfall cut power, flooded roads, and closed schools. In the south, snowfall canceled and delayed flights between Auckland, Queenstown, Dunedin, and Tauranga; and, shut down part of State Highway 94 at Fiordland National Park. Inter-island ferry services were canceled due to poor sea conditions.

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

As the time series indicates, conditions through central Australia should moderate in the coming winter while deficits are expected to continue extending into November in the Darwin region, near Perth in southwest Western Australia, over Tasmania, and the island of New Caledonia. Deficits may continue in the region of Perth through February while moderating across most of the region. The recent surpluses in the Northern Territory and Queensland are expected to continue through the November forecast period.

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

Comment

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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