Forecasting Northern Australian Summer Rainfall Bursts Using a Seasonal Prediction System

Cowan, Tim and Wheeler, Matthew C. and Sharmila, S. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8102-2356 and Narsey, Sugata and de Burgh-Day, Catherine (2021) Forecasting Northern Australian Summer Rainfall Bursts Using a Seasonal Prediction System. Weather and Forecasting, 37 (1). pp. 23-44. ISSN 0882-8156

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Abstract

Rainfall bursts are relatively short-lived events that typically occur over consecutive days, up to a week. Northern Australian industries like sugar farming and beef are highly sensitive to burst activity, yet little is known about the multi-week prediction of bursts. This study evaluates summer (December to March) bursts over northern Australia in observations and multi-week hindcasts from the Bureau of Meteorology’s multi-week to seasonal system, ACCESS-S1 (Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator, Seasonal version 1). The main objective is to test ACCESS-S1’s skill to confidently predict tropical burst activity, defined as rainfall accumulation exceeding a threshold amount over three days, for the purpose of producing a practical, user-friendly burst forecast product. The ensemble hindcasts, made up of 11 members for the period 1990–2012, display good predictive skill out to lead week 2 in the far northern regions, despite overestimating the total number of summer burst days and the proportion of total summer rainfall from bursts. Coinciding with a predicted strong Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), the skill in burst event prediction can be extended out to four weeks over the far northern coast in December, however this improvement is not apparent in other months or over the far northeast, which shows generally better forecast skill with a predicted weak MJO. The ability of ACCESS-S1 to skillfully forecast bursts out to 2-3 weeks suggests the Bureau's recent prototype development of a Burst Potential forecast product would be of great interest to northern Australia’s livestock and crop producers, who rely on accurate multi-week rainfall forecasts for managing business decisions.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment - Centre for Applied Climate Sciences (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2021 02:21
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2021 07:12
Uncontrolled Keywords: Atmosphere; Australia; Tropics; ENSO; Rainfall; Summer/warm season; Forecast verification/skill; Hindcasts; Short-range prediction; Model evaluation/performance; Agriculture; Climate services; Communications/decision making
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040107 Meteorology
04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040102 Atmospheric Dynamics
04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040105 Climatology (excl.Climate Change Processes)
Fields of Research (2020): 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3701 Atmospheric sciences > 370105 Atmospheric dynamics
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3701 Atmospheric sciences > 370108 Meteorology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9602 Atmosphere and Weather > 960202 Atmospheric Processes and Dynamics
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960304 Climate Variability (excl. Social Impacts)
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9602 Atmosphere and Weather > 960203 Weather
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1801 Air quality, atmosphere and weather > 180103 Atmospheric processes and dynamics
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1904 Natural hazards > 190405 Meteorological hazards (e.g. cyclones and storms)
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-21-0046.1
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/44952

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