Climate and Water Outlook for January–March 2020, issued 19 December 2019

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Hello from the Bureau, I am climatologist
Robyn Duell. And I’m hydrologist Robert Pipunik, we’re here to discuss the
Climate and Water Outlook for January to March. So Robyn we’ve talked a lot about the Indian Ocean dipole over recent months, obviously it plays a big part in our
temperature and rainfall conditions looking ahead is likely to play a role,
are there other factors, what’s going on? Well definitely the warm and dry
conditions we’ve experienced so far this year have been largely driven by a very
strong Positive Indian Ocean dipole in the Indian Ocean, but also a Negative
Southern Annular Mode to our south. But the good news is, is that these drivers
are now starting to weaken, but the not-so-good news is that the effects of
these drivers is likely to linger a bit longer this year. This is because they’ve
led us into the summertime, our warmest time of the year, with very dry soils and
also a landscape that’s now primed for bush fires and heat waves. If we step
forward and we look at the first quarter of 2020, we can see that days remain
likely to be warmer than average. And night times also are likely to be warmer than average. So again a continuation of that elevated risk of bushfires and heatwaves. Okay, so warmer days and nights what
about rainfall? In terms of rainfall we actually have quite a neutral outlook, so
most of the map is very white. So this means for most of Australia there’s no
strong indication either way, towards it being particularly wet or particularly
dry. So that dry signal that we had been seeing over the past several months, it’s
now gone and that’s because of the weakness of those climate drivers. Right,
those drivers typically break down in summer? They typically break down in
summer. So Rob, even though the outlook is neutral, it’s been so warm and
dry, what’s that going to mean for streamflow? Yeah, look a rainfall outlook
does have some impact on a streamflow outlook, but also the current state of
the landscape plays a big role as well. So if I look at the soil moisture
map here that represents roughly the top one meter of soil around Australia, and
these dark areas indicate very much below average moisture conditions. And
that means bad conditions for vegetation growth in agricultural areas,
also dry landscapes in bushfire prone areas. But also if it rains, a lot of that water’s going to just soak up in the dry
soil, as opposed to runoff being generated into the streams. So if you
look at our streamflow forecasts for the summer, you see predominantly orange dots here so most of our forecast locations are
indicating a low flows. That’s not not good news for inflows to storages
either. That is a lot of low flows on that map yeah.
So with bushfires or heat waves more likely this summer, stay up to date with
our forecasts and warnings on our website and always follow advice from
your local emergency services and health agencies. Thanks Robyn. So if you’re
taking a break, enjoy your holidays, stay safe and join us again next year for our
climate water conversation

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