Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Not that dry?

Well, in Australia it isn't, according to Jen Marohasy.

In a way, she is correct.
"Preliminary data indicate that the average total rainfall throughout Australia for 2006 was about 490 mm, slightly more than the long-term average of 472 mm."

Only Austrlia's a big country, and the rain fell where it didn't matter too much. Jen should, perhaps, have posted this image:

The red areas denote below average, well below average and record-breaking below average rainfall for 2006.

The red areas contain, by my guess, roughly 95% of Australia's population.

The red areas on the following land-use map show the location of Australia's dry-land and irrigated agriculture (not including grazing)

Not that dry? Yeah, right. It has been a catastrophic year for most.

And the last word according to the Beareu of Meterology:
The dominant cause of the drought experienced throughout southeast Australia in 2006 was the development of an El NiƱo in the tropical Pacific Ocean. However, Australia has experienced marked rainfall trends over the last 50 years with declines over southern and eastern Australia and increases across the northwest. The pattern of rainfall during 2006 continued this trend.

The dry conditions in southern and eastern Australia in 2006 have continued the long-term rainfall deficiencies in many regions, some of which extend back more than five years. Aspects of this multi-year drought are highly unusual and unprecedented in many areas. Understanding the role that climate change has played in these anomalies is an area of active research.