Northern Aust Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for November 2008 to January 2009, issued 28th October 2008

Higher than normal temperatures favoured for most of northern Australia

The northern Australian outlook for daytime temperatures over the early to mid-wet season period (November to January), shows a moderate to strong shift in the odds favouring warmer than normal conditions over much of the area, apart from the southwest of the NT. The odds are in favour of warmer nights for almost all of Queensland and the NT.

The pattern of seasonal temperature odds across northern Australia is mostly a result of continued warmth in the central to southeastern Indian Ocean, especially off the west coast of WA.

The chance of exceeding the median maximum temperature for the November to January period is between 60 and 70% for Queensland and the north and east of the NT (see map). The odds of above median maximum temperatures increase to 70 to 75% over the Queensland Gulf Country. This means that for every ten years with ocean patterns like the current, about six or seven years are expected to be warmer than average over these regions, while about three or four years are expected to be cooler.

Across the southwest of the NT, the chances of a warmer than average November to January period are between 50 and 60%, indicating roughly equal chances of warmer or cooler than normal conditions.

Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian temperatures. During the November to January period, history shows this effect on maximum temperatures to be moderately consistent across most of Queensland and the eastern half of the NT (see background information). In the western NT, the effect is only weakly consistent.

The chance of exceeding the median minimum temperature for the November to January period is greater than 60% for almost all of the NT and Queensland. The odds increase to 75 to 80% over parts of eastern Queensland.

History shows the oceans' effect on minimum temperatures during the November to January period to be moderately consistent over most of the NT and Queensland.

probability of exceeding median maximum temperature - click on the image for a larger version of the map
probability of exceeding median minimum temperature - click on the image for a larger version of the map
 

Click on the maps above for larger versions of the maps. Use the reload/refresh button to ensure the latest forecast maps are displayed.

 

More information on this outlook is available Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm local time by contacting the Bureau's Climate Services sections in Queensland and the Northern Territory at the following numbers:

Brisbane -(07) 3239 8700
Darwin -(08) 8920 3813
 

THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SEASONAL OUTLOOK IS EXPECTED BY 26th November 2008

Corresponding rainfall outlook

Maximum temperature departures from average for July to September 2008 - base period 1961-1990

Minimum temperature departures from average for July to September 2008 - base period 1961-1990

 

Background Information

  • The Bureau's seasonal outlooks are general statements about the probability or risk of wetter or drier than average weather over a three-month period. The outlooks are based on the statistics of chance (the odds) taken from Australian rainfall/temperatures and sea surface temperature records for the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are not, however, categorical predictions about future rainfall, and they are not about rainfall within individual months of the three-month outlook period. The temperature outlooks are for the average maximum and minimum temperatures for the entire three-month outlook period. Information about whether individual days or weeks may be unusually hot or cold, is unavailable.

  • This outlook is a summary. More detail is available from the contact people or from SILO (www.bom.gov.au/silo/products/SClimate.shtml).

  • Probability outlooks should not be used as if they were categorical forecasts. More on probabilities is contained in the booklet The Seasonal Climate Outlook - What it is and how to use it, available from the National Climate Centre. These outlooks should be used as a tool in risk management and decision making. The benefits accrue from long-term use, say over 10 years. At any given time, the probabilities may seem inaccurate, but taken over several years, the advantages of taking account of the risks should outweigh the disadvantages. For more information on the use of probabilities, farmers could contact their local departments of agriculture or primary industry.

  • Model Consistency and Outlook Confidence: Strong consistency means that tests of the model on historical data show a high correlation between the most likely outlook category (above/below median) and the verifying observation (above/below median). In this situation relatively high confidence can be placed in the outlook probabilities. Low consistency means the historical relationship, and therefore outlook confidence, is weak. In the places and seasons where the outlooks are most skilful, the category of the eventual outcome (above or below median) is consistent with the category favoured in the outlook about 75% of the time. In the least skilful areas, the outlooks perform no better than random chance or guessing. The rainfall outlooks perform best in eastern and northern Australia between July and January, but are less useful in autumn and in the west of the continent. The skill at predicting seasonal maximum temperature peaks in early winter and drops off marginally during the second half of the year. The lowest point in skill occurs in early autumn. The skill at predicting seasonal minimum temperature peaks in late autumn and again in mid-spring. There are also two distinct periods when the skill is lowest - namely late summer and mid-winter. However, it must always be remembered that the outlooks are statements of chance or risk. For example, if you were told there was a 50:50 chance of a horse winning a race but it ran second, the original assessment of a 50:50 chance could still have been correct.

  • The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is calculated using the barometric pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. The SOI is one indicator of the stage of El Niño or La Niña events in the tropical Pacific Ocean. It is best considered in conjunction with sea-surface temperatures, which form the basis of the outlooks. A moderate to strongly negative SOI (persistently below –10) is usually characteristic of El Niño, which is often associated with below average rainfall over eastern Australia, and a weaker than normal monsoon in the north. A moderate to strongly positive SOI (persistently above +10) is usually characteristic of La Niña, which is often associated with above average rainfall over parts of tropical and eastern Australia, and an earlier than normal start to the northern monsoon season. The Australian impacts of 23 El Niño events since 1900 are summarized on the Bureau's web site (www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/).