National Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for October to December 2010, issued 23rd September 2010
The Australian maximum temperature outlook for the December quarter (October to December), favours warmer than average daytime and night-time temperatures in the tropical north and southeast of the continent, with cooler daytime temperatures favoured over southern Queensland and northern NSW.
The October to December temperature outlook is the result of recent warm conditions in the Indian Ocean and cool conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, both of which are associated with the current La Niña event.
The chance that the average October to December maximum temperature will exceed the long-term median maximum temperature is between 60 and about 80% for the tropical north and parts of southeast and southern Australia. This means that for every ten years with ocean patterns like those currently observed, about six to eight years would be expected to be warmer than average, with about two to four years being cooler, during the October to December period.
In contrast, cooler daytime temperatures are favoured in southeast Queensland and northeastern NSW with odds between 30 to 40%. This means that for every ten years with the present ocean patterns, about six or seven years would be expected to be cooler while about three to four years would be warmer.
For the remainder of Australia, namely most of WA and central Australia, the outlook is neutral with odds of 40 to 60%. This means that the chance of a warmer than average December quarter is about the same as the chance of cooler than average conditions in these areas.
Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian temperatures. During October to December, history shows this effect on maximum temperatures to be moderately consistent across large parts of the country, with the exception of the western border of NT as well as the northern parts of WA, where it is only weakly consistent (see background information).
The average minimum temperature for October to December is also favoured to be above the long-term median minimum temperature with odds of over 60% for the tropical north including the Queensland coast and southeast Australia. Odds increase to above 75% over northern Queensland. For the remainder of Australia the odds are mostly between 50 and 60%.
History shows the oceans' effect on minimum temperatures during October to December to be moderately consistent over most of Queensland, NSW, SA, Tasmania and southern WA and only weakly to very weakly consistent across parts of northern NT and northeastern WA.
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The following climate meteorologists in the National Climate Centre can be contacted about this outlook: Agata Imielska on (02) 9296 1539, Elise Chandler on (03) 9669 4748, Andrew Watkins on (03) 9669 4360.
Regional commentary is available from the Climate Services Sections in the Bureau's Regional Offices:
|Queensland -||(07) 3239 8660|
|New South Wales -||(02) 9296 1555|
|Victoria -||(03) 9669 4949|
|Tasmania -||(03) 6221 2043|
|South Australia -||(08) 8366 2664|
|Western Australia -||(08) 9263 2222|
|The Northern Territory -||(08) 8920 3813|
THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SEASONAL OUTLOOK IS EXPECTED BY 26nd October 2010
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 (Seasonal Climate Outlook Products).
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 past El Niño events since 1900 are summarized on the Bureau's web site (El Niño - Detailed Australian Analysis), and past La Niña events (La Niña - Detailed Australian Analysis)
© Australian Government, Bureau of Meteorology