Changes in summer rainfall and implications for agriculture

In the last 20 years, summer rainfall has been largely absent in parts Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, increasing the risk for agriculture. Farmers need to understand whether this is part of a longer-term trend requiring transformational changes to the farming systems or merely attributed to natural variability.

By conducting a thorough review of relevant literature and analysing historical rainfall data, we are investigating whether there has been a specific shift in summer rainfall in northern New South Wales, southern Queensland and at similar latitudes in Western Australia.

By analysing future projections and changes in the main climate processes, we examine how the historic trends might continue and how this may impact on agriculture in the region. The characteristics of the climate in the study area in Queensland and New South Wales are distinct as the regions are situated between the tropical and the temperate climate zone with associated complexities in the climate system.

This research will detail new knowledge about changes in summer rainfall over the study area, causes of changes and attribution to climate change and discuss them in the larger context of climate change and climate impact research for Australian and global agriculture. This project would test assumptions made in previous studies that suggested changes in climate from a climatological perspective and add value to research being undertaken in adapting to climate change and variability.

Contact Katharina Waha for more information.