Northern Australia Climate Program


NACP is a collaboration between the Queensland Government (under their Drought and Climate Adaptation Program) and the MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia) Donor Company to fund the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and program partners for a range of research, development and extension projects. Program partners are: USQ, BoM, UK Met Office, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries and Resources, Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Rangelands NRM Western Australia. Funding has been provided for 2018 to 2021.

Program summary

NACP will deliver innovative research, development and extension outcomes to improve the capacity of the red meat industry to manage drought and climate risk across northern Australia. Drought is one of the biggest challenges graziers face and has a significant impact on agricultural output, productivity and on-farm income. The ability of producers to manage the effects of climate and weather variability, which includes incorporating climate forecasting into their decision making, is a major contributor to economic, environmental and social impacts. In response to recent droughts, governments have invested considerably in targeted drought assistance, concessional loans, farm household allowance and other programs to support drought affected primary producers.

NACP is expected to drive a step-change in the level and sustainability of drought preparedness amongst red meat producers in the north. NACP will develop a suite of tools and frameworks to increase the rates of sustained adoption of research outputs and the associated technical and management recommendations that are applicable beyond this program.

NACP is divided into 3 projects:

  1. Improving the basic science and operational skill of seasonal, sub-seasonal (multi-week) and multi-year climate forecasting systems of direct relevance to the northern Australia red meat industry.
  2. Developing innovative and targeted products for use in drought monitoring, planning and prediction for producers and policy makers.
  3. Integrating and embedding climate forecast information into Northern Australia grazing industry networks to improve producer resilience to drought and climate variability.

The Bureau component of the program

The Bureau's input to NACP is mostly in projects 1 and 2 above. We are working with national and international climate modellers to improve seasonal forecasts for Northern Australia in ACCESS-S, we are improving understanding of the drivers and physical processes of multi-year droughts and northern rainfall onset, and we are quantifying and understanding the development of fast developing, or flash, droughts. Targeted products we are developing include: (a) Probabilistic forecasts of whether the onset of useful wet season rainfall is early or late; (b) Plots of the forecasted future evolution of the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) from ACCESS-S; (c) An interactive daily database of the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) over Australia, for its use in identifying fast-evolving drought conditions; and (d) A Meteograms product focussing on the multi-week to seasonal time scale. Regular meetings and discussions are held with our NACP collaborators at USQ and the UK Met Office.


Bureau Project Leaders

For more information,
please contact Oscar Alves