Forewarned is Forearmed (FWFA)

Equipping farmers and agricultural value chains to proactively manage the impacts of extreme climate events.

This 5-year project (2017-2022) is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program in partnership with rural Research and Development Corporations, commercial companies, state departments and universities. The project is managed by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).


Project summary

Australian farmers and agribusiness operate in one of the most variable climates of any country in the world. Extreme climatic events (such as heatwaves, frost and heavy rainfall) and climate variability are amongst the largest drivers of annual agricultural production and income.

This national project will deliver direct value to farmers by providing forecasts of extremes and equipping them with the information and tools to be forewarned and prepared. The project outputs aim to decrease the impacts of extreme climate events on farm, and on business profit.

The Bureau, working with several research partners, will develop and deliver forecasts of the likelihood of climate extremes on multi-week and seasonal timescales — beyond the 7-day weather forecast. The products will be focused on heat, cold and rainfall extremes, for example, "What is the likelihood of having a decile 10 rainfall this spring?"; "What is the chance of having a heatwave in the week after next?"; "What is the chance that the upcoming month will be extremely hot?"; "What is the likelihood of having more heavy rainfall events than usual in the upcoming fortnight?". This will provide farmers with the first ever forecasts of climate extremes in the weeks to seasons ahead.

Project partners include agricultural climate and systems analysis researchers and extension experts with expertise in the dairy, beef, sheep, grains, sugar and wine industries. They will use Bureau outputs and work directly with farmers and farm consultants to interface the forecasts with agricultural decision-making systems. They will also develop risk management strategies to proactively prepare for these events, as well as extending project outputs to farmers and advisors.

The Bureau component

The forecasts will be based on the Bureau's seasonal forecast system, ACCESS-S. The Bureau component of the project includes:

  • evaluating farmer and advisor needs;
  • conducting underpinning scientific research, including understanding the large-scale drivers (e.g., El Niño) of extremes, and the strengths and weaknesses of ACCESS-S for forecasting extremes;
  • improving ACCESS-S to give better forecasts of extremes; and
  • developing experimental forecast products which will be trialled by users to assess value. A subset of products that have sufficient accuracy and utility will be delivered as official Bureau forecasts to the benefit of agriculture.

The full project structure is summarised below.


New official Bureau forecasts

A key output of the project is new forecasts of extremes for the weeks, months and seasons ahead.

Five new forecast products will be delivered by June 2022. They will be available on the Bureau's climate outlooks website.


The Bureau's climate outlook service now includes a set of tools to help plan for extreme weather and climate events — with more detail on extreme rainfall and temperatures for any location in Australia.

The 5 new tools provide producers and advisors with information to improve resilience and productivity and are available on the Bureau's website. Drill down to your location to view the chance of unseasonal and extreme temperature and rainfall for the weeks, months, or seasons ahead.

The new tools include:

  • Maps showing the likelihood of unusually dry/wet and unusually cool/warm conditions (for both maximum and minimum temperature) in the weeks to seasons ahead. “Unusually” is defined as being in the top or bottom 20% of historical observations for the selected outlook period.
  • Location-based bar charts for any location in Australia displaying the likelihood of rain/temperature being in each of 5 climatological ranges (i.e., the likelihood of being in the lowest and/or highest 20% of historical records, and three ranges in between). These are displayed in a pop-up window for a selected location, activated when the location is clicked on, or searched for from an outlook map.
  • Location-based rainfall and temperature time series forecasts for any location in Australia. These are weekly and monthly forecasts displayed as a time series graph and appear on the pop-up window.
  • Location-based graphs displaying the probability of a comprehensive range of rainfall amounts for the coming weeks to seasons, termed 'probability of exceedance'. These appear on the pop-up window.
  • Rainfall probability maps displaying the likelihood of exceeding 3-day rainfall totals, ranging from 15 mm to 75 mm in the weeks and fortnights ahead.

Watch this short video demonstration of the new features and tools.


Bureau Contacts

  • Debbie Hudson (Science and Innovation)
  • Andrew Watkins (Community Services)
  • David McIver (Business Solutions)

Collaborating Organisations

  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • University of Melbourne
  • Monash University
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • South Australian Research and Development Institute
  • Agriculture Victoria
  • DAF Queensland
  • Birchip Cropping Group