Northern Aust Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for February to April 2011, issued 20th January 2011
The north Australian outlook for maximum and minimum temperatures averaged over the end of the wet season (February to April) favours cooler night-time temperatures across northern Australia with the exception of Cape York Peninsula. Cooler days are also favoured for southeast Queensland.
The pattern of seasonal temperature odds across north Australia is a result of recent warm conditions in the Indian Ocean as well as cool conditions in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean.
The chance that the average February to April maximum temperature will exceed the long-term median maximum temperature is between 35 and 40% across parts of southeastern Queensland (see map). This means that for every ten years with ocean patterns like the ones currently observed, about six or seven February to April periods would be expected to be cooler than average in these areas, with about three or four being warmer.
Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian temperatures. During the February to April period, history shows the effect on maximum temperatures to be moderately consistent across northern Australia (see background information).
The average minimum temperature for February to April is favoured to be below the long-term median minimum temperature across large parts of the NT and western Queensland. The largest probabilities of 20 to 30% occur in the central NT. In contrast, the outlook favours warmer night-time temperatures over Cape York Peninsula, with probabilities between 60 and 70%
History shows the oceans' effect on minimum temperatures during the February to April period to be strongly to moderately consistent over most of northern Australia, with the effect being only weakly consistent in far southern NT and parts of southeastern Queensland.
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 by contacting the Bureau's Climate Services sections in Queensland and the Northern Territory at the following numbers:
|Brisbane -||(07) 3239 8660|
|Darwin -||(08) 8920 3813|
THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SEASONAL OUTLOOK IS EXPECTED BY 24th February 2011
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.
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