Become a North West climate expert in an hour

North West station managers become climatologists in a few hours

CLIMATE CLUB: Neil Cliffe (Qld Govt), Pru Wharton (Southern Gulf), Roger Stone, David Cobon (University of Southern Qld). Photo: Esther MacIntyre

CLIMATE CLUB: Neil Cliffe (Qld Govt), Pru Wharton (Southern Gulf), Roger Stone, David Cobon (University of Southern Qld). Photo: Esther MacIntyre


Climatology seems so much simpler after this hands-on forecasting workshop for graziers


Whether you wonder about weather or not, climatology is certainly a hot topic in the North West.

Thanks to experts from the University of Southern Queensland, station managers may now be able to predict the climate and weather themselves, and make important business decisions accordingly.

Meteorologist and climatologist, Professor Roger Stone, led a forum on climate and weather forecasting on Tuesday in Cloncurry, co-hosted by Southern Gulf NRM.

“It only takes about an hour to become a climate forecaster,” Professor Stone said. 

“It’s very much getting people to do their own forecasting, not to rely on some so-called expert from Brisbane or Melbourne, you can do most of this yourself, it’s not too difficult to do.”

Professor Stone is talking about seasonal forecasting, looking three to six months ahead, as opposed to weather forecasting which hones in on the next seven days.

The secret is noting sea temperature changes in the Pacific Ocean, he said.

“Mostly understanding what the sea surface temperatures are doing, and the patterns that are forming in the central Pacific Ocean. You can get most of this information on the net for free,” he said.

“Most of the building blocks of seasonal climate forecasting we can pick up in an hour’s work, and we get folks to do their own exercises and their own forecasting before they leave, so you can pick up the core requirements pretty quickly.”

The important question then, is how does this information relate to management decisions?

“If we were going into a drought type pattern, is it about adgistment or is it about selling before the conditions get really bad? Because you can probably pick up a lot of this stuff around May or June in any year, to look forward about 12 months.”

The climate year runs roughly May to April or June to May, Prof Stone said.

Professor Stone said the workshops have been running since 1992, educating folks in the grazing industry and also emergency services.

"Without using the jargon, it equips them to manage their property,” he said.


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