Mixed outlook for northern Australia

Northern Aust Seasonal Temperature Outlook: probabilities for May to July 2013, issued 23rd April 2013

Mixed outlook for northern Australia

The northern Australian outlook averaged over May to July 2013 shows that:

  • warmer days are likely over part of the Cape York Peninsula
  • cooler days are likely across part of southeast Queensland and the border of WA and the NT
  • This outlook is mostly a result of warmer than normal waters in the Indian Ocean with near normal temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean having minimal influence.

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

    The chances that the May to July maximum temperature will exceed the long-term median maximum temperature are between 60 and 65% over a small part of the Cape York Peninsula (see map above). Such odds mean that for every ten years with similar ocean conditions about six May to July periods would be warmer than normal while about four year may be cooler.

    In contrast, there is a 35 to 40% chance of warmer than normal days for southeastern Queensland and the border region between WA and the NT. In other words, there is a higher chance (namely, 60 to 65%) that these areas will see cooler than normal days.

    Generally, over most of northern Australia the odds of a warmer or cooler season are roughly equal.

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

    The chance that the average minimum temperature for May to July will exceed the long-term median minimum temperature is between 60 and 80% for most of northern Australia, with the highest probabilities between 75 and 80% over southern and eastern Queensland.

    Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect north Australian temperatures. During May to July, history shows the effect on both maximum temperatures and minimum temperatures to be moderately consistent over the northern half of Australia (see background information), with the exception of the southern half of Queensland and the NT where the skill is low for maximum temperatures.

     

    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:

    Darwin -(08) 8920 3813
    Brisbane -(07) 3239 8660

     

    THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE SEASONAL OUTLOOK IS EXPECTED BY 22nd May 2013

    Corresponding rainfall outlook

    Maximum temperature departures from average for January to March 2013 - base period 1961-1990

    Minimum temperature departures from average for January to March 2013 - 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.

    • Probability outlooks should not be used as if they were categorical forecasts. 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)

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