Australia & New Zealand: Water deficits to persist in TAS, VIC, & NSW

14 December 2018

The 12-month forecast through August 2019 shows intense deficits in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and the Diamantina River Basin in southwestern Queensland. Deficits will also be intense from Rockhampton in eastern Queensland through the Cape York Peninsula; from the southern shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria into Top End, Northern Territory; and in the Blackwood River region near Busselton in the tip of Western Australia.

In the Murray-Darling Basin deficits are expected to be exceptional along the Murray River, severe on Lachlan and Macquarie, and moderate on the Darling.

Moderate deficits are forecast for northern New Zealand but may be more intense north of Auckland. Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for New Caledonia.

The 3-month maps (below) show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

The forecast through February indicates that the intense deficits that have dominated many parts of Australia in prior months will nearly disappear. However, severe to exceptional deficits will persist in Tasmania, pockets of Victoria, and around Busselton in the tip of Western Australia (WA). Moderate to severe deficits are forecast for parts of New South Wales (NSW). Deficits on the Murray River are expected to be severe, while moderate deficits are forecast for the Darling, Lachlan, and Macquarie Rivers. Deficits may be severe in the Riverina region of NSW. Primarily moderate deficits are forecast in a wide arc across northern Australia from Rockhampton in eastern Queensland (QLD), through the Cape York Peninsula QLD, in Top End Northern Territory (NT), and into the Kimberley Plateau WA. In New Zealand, moderate to severe deficits are forecast for western North Island, and surpluses are forecast along the coast of South Island from Christchurch to Dunedin. Deficits in New Caledonia will moderate.

From March through May, deficits in southeastern Australia and around Busselton WA will moderate overall. Moderate deficits will persist in the north around the Gulf of Carpentaria and through Cape York Peninsula, with some severe pockets. Conditions in the Kimberley Plateau will normalize, and some moderate surpluses are expected to emerge south of the Fitzroy River. Moderate deficits are forecast for northern New Zealand, and conditions in New Caledonia are expected to normalize.

The forecast for the final months – June through August – indicates intense deficits across northern Australia, and near-normal conditions elsewhere in the country. Moderate deficits may re-emerge in New Caledonia and deficits in New Zealand may intensify north of Auckland.

(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.

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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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