Climate variability on the Seeing Past the Smoke workshop program

Dr Chelsea Jarvis is an agricultural climatology researcher working on the MLA-funded North Australia climate program. She says a good knowledge of researching and interpreting weather and climate forecasts helps producers make informed choices.

“Hope is not a plan” is part of the message Chelsea Jarvis brings to the free disaster resilience workshops at Capricornia Catchments.

Dr Jarvis, Agricultural Climate Researcher at the University of South Queensland, presented at the Alton Downs workshops which were held on February 28-29, and will also make a presentation at future sessions, which will be held at Middlemount next week.

“I present climate information: what is the El Niño Southern Oscillation, what is the Indian Ocean Dipole, and I present on Climate Tools: where you can learn more about these climatic factors, how to interpret a forecast and what happens in the next three to six months, ”she said.

Although based in Toowoomba, Dr Jarvis is no stranger to the climate and production systems of central and northern Queensland, having worked for the past two years on the Northern Australia Climate Program, funded by Meat and Livestock Australia. ,

She said she hoped Seeing Past the Smoke attendees would bring a better understanding of how to interpret weather and climate forecasts.

“What I find in many NACP workshops is that people think they know how to interpret them, but they don’t know, and because they misinterpret the forecast, they think they are wrong. , and then they don’t use them. That’s a huge problem that we have to overcome because our climate predictions have come a long way, even in the last 18 months, “she said.

She said the Bureau of Meteorology had implemented a new system, called XSS, which was “so much better”.

Dr Jarvis said she will also show how there are easy ways for growers to find quality weather information.

“It’s a bit of a minefield over there, there is so much information. A lot of people get information from places like Facebook because it’s easy, but it’s not always the best source. It is really important to know what these reliable sources are and where to find them online, ”she said.

She said BOM remained the most reliable forecaster.

“We did a review of the seasonal forecasts going back to the last 10 to 12 months, and they were found to be quite accurate,” she said.

Recognizing the complexity of the BOM website, Dr Jarvis said NACP has good climate information and newsletters available on nacp.org.au

“We develop a monthly climate outlook that includes forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as some field offices in Europe and the UK. It is a one-stop-shop.

Dr Jarvis said his research focused on climate variability, more than climate change.

“The bottom line, especially for central Queensland, as many people know, is that it is one of the most variable climates in the world in terms of rainfall; one year you can have floods, the next is drought, ”she said.

“The more prepared people are and the more they understand this climate information and how to interpret it, the more resilient and prepared they can be for future events and so on.

“We’re not really talking about climate change, but if you’re prepared for the variability we’re experiencing right now, you’ve also kind of built in resilience to change. “

She said floods and droughts are part of the natural system.

“So it’s not if they’re coming, but when,” she said.

Dr Jarvis said 2019 was the driest year on record and the knowledge tools were powerful.

“Some of our beef producers say that understanding any forecast, even if it’s for more drought or rain, is really empowering, even if that’s not what you want to hear. It gives you the opportunity to make informed choices, ”she said.

“You hear people say, ‘I hold my cattle, because I hope it rains.’ Well, hope is not a plan.

“If you can look at your weather forecast and understand what it says, then at least you have information, and not just hope.”

Workshop program coordinator Shelly McArdle said the organizers had worked to create an attractive program for the workshops.

“We have presenters whose communities have said they would like to hear. Capricornia Catchments strives to maintain workshops specific to the communities in which they take place, ”Ms. McArdle said.

“It also gives people a chance to start a conversation.”

The first day was dedicated to information, with presenters from council, government departments and community organizations such as the Rural Fire Department, and the second day was devoted to the quiet space to create and reflect, with the art and yoga.

Alton Downs Assistant Fire Director Peter Hunt presented at the Alton Downs workshop. Mr Hunt said the workshops were extremely valuable to the community, giving people a chance to gain insight into fire preparedness.

“The big questions were about permits, firewalls and backburning. The bigger ones come back, no matter where we go, ”he said.

“This has been the problem over the last few fire seasons, it’s a problem that manifests itself. It is being taken care of slowly and we need more inputs at the local level. This is why these community forums are so important; we need more information from the community to our commissioner and area managers to really make them understand that the people on the ground know how to manage their plot better than anyone else.

“They know the speed of fires that normally occur and how much head we need to start turning back. “

Mr Hunt said the Alton Downs workshop sparked discussions about the need for good communication between residents and the fire department, and being able to resolve issues such as these made the workshops invaluable .

“I would really encourage locals to come and attend these workshops,” he said.

Free Middlemount workshops will be held March 13-14 at the Middlemount Community Hall. Visit the Capricornia Catchments Facebook page and book with Janeen on 0428 123 061 or [email protected]


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