ABC publishes animated Australian rainfall/drought history which exaggerates the so called “Millenium Drought”

The ABC page – Interactive: 100 years of drought in Australia – should open in a separate window.
Here is a chart of Australian rain anomalies 1900-2013 – it is obvious that the much ballyhooed Millenium Drought was a pussy of a drought Australia wide compared to the obviously dry years from 1910 right up to 1970.

Here is the ABC “drought bar” -

And you can see it must have been very subjectively constructed to show the Millenium Drought in such a bad light. I fully realize it is possible to argue about how bad some years were in various regions – there might be bad starts to the crop season. But the ABC map is of all Australia – so I am putting up a chart of all Australian rain to compare.

28 comments to ABC publishes animated Australian rainfall/drought history which exaggerates the so called “Millenium Drought”

  • One thing that is obvious is that it is stupid to talk about Australian rainfall anomalies. Rainfall is local but at times of drought and floods large areas can be affected. However, from the inactive chart it can be seen that some parts of the country can be in drought while at the same time other parts of the country can have floods.
    The Federation drought was much worse than the Millenium drought as larger areas were involved for a longer period.
    In SEQ (where I live) the lowest rainfall on record occurred in 1902 at 27% of the average over 120 years. Only one year in the period 1899 to 1919 (1914) was at or above average. There were seven years in that period with very low rainfall (less than 60% of average) 1900, 1902, 1905, 1910,1911, 1915 & 1919. The inactive chart shows when SEQ has low rainfall western Qld and NSW are also affected.
    Here the Millenium drought stretched from 1995 to 2007 with below average rainfall but only three years with less than 65% average (2001,2002, &2006). Every year from and including 2008 has had above average rainfall.

  • Sorry meant to write interactive chart. Inactive could refer to BOM about dropping weather stations. Where I live there used within about 30 km radius around a dozen stations now I think it is down to four.

  • Now they are complaining about a BBQ summer with only 2mm of rain for Perth: pindanpost.com/2014/02/27/beachgoing-weather-perth/ with something about 5th hottest or something, but who is counting.

  • George Bailley

    For once I agree with cementedfriend – you were stupid to talk about Australian rainfall anomalies in the manner that you did. The ABC map does place the rainfall into context.

    Sadly, with the strongest El Nino since 1997/98 looming – the drought is (probably) only going to get worse in SE Australia. Combined with a positive OID it is likely to be a very difficult 12 months, rainfall wise.

  • Now they are complaining about a BBQ summer with only 2mm of rain for Perth:

    In the 20 odd years I have lived in Perth the norm is no rain at all for 5 months of summer,. In the mid-90s, No rain until late May was the norm.

    I could go on about journos not understanding the difference between normal and average.

  • Just had another look at my data (120yrs of daily rain record in my area mainly based on a closed weather station 2kms from my home, any missing data estimated from other closed weather stations and my own measurements which I have cross checked with open weather stations, including one operated by Dept of Primary Industry), and ABC Interactive chart. The latter in most years for my area is completely inaccurate, The error appears to be random. The ABC chart in some years has above average rainfall when the rainfall was actually below average by a considerable margin and in other years they show below average when the rainfall was actually well above average. I suggest the person(s) who prepared the charts do not know what they are doing. a)they probably did not use consistent data, for any area b) they have varied the size of areas for different years c) they have used averages for a restricted time which bear no relevance to the long term pattern (at least 113 year time span).
    It is very likely the charts came from BOM who would be far better to just provide original raw data without adjustments and spurious charts.
    George Bailey do not know what you are agreeing about. My data supports Warwick’s point that the ABC charts are misleading.

  • Sadly, with the strongest El Nino since 1997/98 looming

    Do you have a basis for that claim? ENSO has been neutral to somewhat negative for a while, and the BoM is vaguely predicting a mild El Nino.

    Tropical Pacific SSTs indicate no significant El Nino anytime soon.

  • George Bailley

    The data is all there Phillip – you just have to know where to look. Check the the current subsurface temperature anomalies across the equatorial Pacific. There are massive 4 to 5 degree anomalies showing up (guess the heating does go into the ocean after all). In addition there is now a strong kelvin wave (westerly wind burst) pushing this anomaly eastwards.

    This is a classic setup for El Nino development – and the current subsurface temperatures suggest it will be strong. The proof will be in the pudding – like all seasonal forecasts there are chaotic influences that can moderate or amplify outcomes [something Warwick misses when he complains about seasonal forecasting] – however the guidance is all pointing in one direction.

    BTW, rather than use Warwick’s “all Australia anomaly” – why not look at rainfall in the SE of Australia in the southern wet season – tells a different story.

    www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/index.shtml#tabs=Tracker&tracker=timeseries&tQ%5Bgraph%5D=rranom&tQ%5Barea%5D=seaus&tQ%5Bseason%5D=0411&tQ%5Bave_yr%5D=0

  • As I suspected, a claim without substance, unless you possess some particular expertise in ENSO prediction.

  • George Bailley

    My apologies Philip for explaining the situation using concepts you don’t understand.

  • George Bailley the chart you show backs my point that BOM presents misleading data. If you pick a period of high rainfall for your average (1961 to 1990) then the majority of anomalies will appear to be dry. With their super computer why can they not average over the whole period ? and what is southern wet season for SE Australia meant to mean. Sydney and even down to the Victorian border has no wet season. On average Sydney has equal rain for each month of the year. As you move north the rain tends to be more in summer and as you move south the rain tends to be more in winter.
    You seem to be an apologist for BOM and you certainly give to impression that your knowledge is limited. Do you work for for BOM or a government department.

  • From the BoM’s latest ENSO outlook,

    The majority of international climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate that SSTs in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are likely to slowly warm, although remaining in the ENSO-neutral range until at least the end of autumn. Some models suggest this warming may approach or exceed El Niño thresholds during winter.

  • George Bailley

    Cementedfriend – “You seem to be an apologist for BOM and you certainly give to impression that your knowledge is limited. Do you work for for BOM or a government department” In answer to your statements- No I’m not, I don’t really care what you think of my skills, no and no.

    Philipe Bradley – “We are seeing increasing evidence of an upcoming change in the Pacific Ocean base state that favors the development of a moderate-to-strong El Niño event this [northern] Spring/Summer.” www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/an-el-nio-coming-in-2014

    Read it. You might learn something.

  • George Bailley

    Phil – from the BoM’s latest ENSO outlook “… warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely in the coming months, with international climate models surveyed by the Bureau showing Pacific Ocean temperatures approaching or exceeding El Niño thresholds in the austral winter… … The tropical Pacific Ocean subsurface has warmed substantially in recent weeks, which is likely to result in a warming of the ocean surface in the coming months. A strong burst of westerly wind occurring now over the far western tropical Pacific, may cause further warming of the subsurface in the coming weeks.” www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

  • George,

    Always look at the data. Most models aren’t predicting an El Nino, and the minority that are, are predicting a weak El Nino.

    Which is as I said,

    the BoM is vaguely predicting a mild El Nino

  • George Bailley

    Tom – Can you tell the difference between an observation and a forecast? Philllip – Can you tell the difference between a 6 month forecast (models) and a 12 month forecast (Ventrice and others)?

    Dunning- Kruger in full swing I see.

  • Everyone knows ENSO model forecasts past October aren’t worth much. Known as the autumn predictability barrier.

  • George Bailley

    Well done Philip!! I think you’ve neatly proved my point!

  • All climate blog trolls seem to have gone on the same How to Be a Climate Blog Troll course. No predictability barrier with them.

  • George Bailley

    So Philip – you say “Most models aren’t predicting an El Nino, and the minority that are, are predicting a weak El Nino” and then you say “Everyone knows ENSO model forecasts past October aren’t worth much. Known as the autumn predictability barrier.” – and when this inconsistency is pointed out to you you cry “troll”.

    Anyway – for your information – POAMA forecasts to October, EC to August, JMA to August, GMAO to October, CFS to October and UK to June. No model forecasts extend into the December to April period, which is when El Nino / LA Nina events are generally most strongest.

    To extend a forecast into this time period we can look at antecedent conditions prior to other moderate to strong El Ninos and compare them with the current situation. Michael Ventrice has done so, and there are similarities. As I clearly noted “there are chaotic influences that can moderate or amplify outcomes” which is why there are no certainties. However there is reasonable cause to believe that a El Nino will develop later this year, and there is reasonable cause to believe it will be moderate to strong. Time will tell.

    Anyway, best wishes and good luck Phil.

  • George Bailley

    The subsurface temperatures through the equatorial Pacific are at records not seen since the 1997 El Nino event. www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_update/wkxzteq.shtml

    We may be lucky, if the equatorial westerlies reverse, for us to dodge a (temperature) bullet – but it doesn’t seem likely. Almost all ensemble model forecast have NINO 3.4 temperatures going through the roof. tinypic.com/r/iwpy0i/8

    Will be interesting to see, if record global temperatures are reported, how those who reject man-made global warming will respond..

    George.

  • George Bailley

    Phillip, Tom

    Even Bob is on board now .. bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/enso-update-march-2014/ .. You guys “in” on a moderate to strong El Nino or are you still holding out for the small chance that every things goes right and we dodge a bullet?

    George

  • George Bailley

    Phillip, Tom

    You’ve gone quiet on me! The latest NOAA graphics – especially slides 10 and 11 – paint a particularly alarming picture El Nino wise.

    www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

    Are you coming on board with the idea that a moderate to strong El Nino is becoming a strong possibility (though not yet absolute)?

    George

  • Lets no forget.. One year of El Nino does not equal drought. A drought is an event that lasts for many years. The point made by Warwick is correct
    Our Australian rainfall trends have increased with a temperature warming trend. We are getting more rain since 1975 than in the previous decades
    I liked his expletive..quote
    “Here is a chart of Australian rain anomalies 1900-2013 – it is obvious that the much ballyhooed Millennium Drought was a pussy of a drought Australia wide compared to the obviously dry years from 1910 right up to 1970.”
    We have had the pussy of a drought and yet the recent qld drought was also a ‘pussy of drought’ compared to past records
    I find it frightening we have actually been in a wet phase since 1975. What will we do when the dry phase returns again.
    The de-sal’ plants will be needed.
    When the next dry cycle resumes? The AGW mob will cry AGW BUT the data will say…the dry cycle has returned.

  • George Bailley

    Phillip, Tom: Where are you? The subsea temperatures continue to warm www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/jsdisplay/plots/gif/Dep_Sec_EQ_5d.gif

    Weather Cyclist: So I’m also guessing you think there is a pretty slim chance of global temperatures hitting an all time high over the next 12 months?

  • George Bailley

    Weather Cyclist:“we have actually been in a wet phase since 1975″ You must be one of the lucky ones then .. www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/index.shtml#tabs=Tracker&tracker=trend-maps&tQ%5Bmap%5D=rain&tQ%5Barea%5D=aus&tQ%5Bseason%5D=0112&tQ%5Bperiod%5D=1970.

  • George Bailley

    Phillip. Tom

    I know you guys are interested in this. Here is the latest subsea anomaly www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif

    George…

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