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R&D opportunities for using seasonal climate forecasts in the Australian water industry

McMahon, T.A. Prof; Ph: (03) 9344 6641; Fax: (03) 9344 6215; tam@engineering.unimelb.edu.au

Research organisation: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Melbourne, Parkville Vic 3052.

Sponsor: LWRRDC, Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation

Objectives:

1. To review current research and development and operational use of seasonal climate forecasting in water resources management and design;

2. To review constraints to use of seasonal climate forecasts;

3. To review in brief the impact of new knowledge on ENSO-related persistence in hydrological series on risk in water resources management and design; and

4. To prioritise the major opportunities for further research and development, the appropriate responsibilities and source of funds, and mechanisms (commissioning nominated institutions or a public call).

Methodology:

Existing methods for forecasting water resources were reviewed with emphasis on attitude to risk, and whether or not any attention was paid to seasonal outlooks. This included interviewing a number of water management authorities to obtain information on the methods they used to forecast water resources. Part of the survey of these authorities included eliciting their opinions as to the Bureau of Meteorology's Seasonal Climate Outlook.

Progress:

The survey of methods and attitudes by the major water management authorities was undertaken. It was confirmed that there is little operational use of seasonal climate forecasting in water resources management and design, beyond incorporating it as qualitative background information. The use of existing forecasts was considered too risky, since they were regarded as insufficiently accurate, and not sufficiently specific to apply to a chosen catchment. Future prediction methodologies for water resources were considered, including the possibility of extending the Australian RAINMAN software to forecast streamflow. This is now being evaluated in a project entitled 'Seasonal streamflow forecasts to improve management of water resources'.

Status: completed

Period: starting date 1995-10; completion date 1996-03

Keywords: seasonal climate outlooks, streamflow, water resources, water management

Publications:

Chiew, F.H.S. and McMahon, T.A. (1998). Seasonal forecasting of rainfall and streamflow in Australia. In Climate prediction for agricultural and resource management, edited by R.K. Munro and L.M. Leslie, Australian Academy of Science Conference, Canberra, 6-8 May 1997, Bureau of Resource Sciences, Canberra, pp. 269-286.

Long, A.B. and McMahon, T.A. (1996). Review of research and development opportunities for using seasonal climate forecasts in the Australian water industry. Land & Water Resources Research & Development Corporation Occasional Paper No. CV02/96, 46 pp.

 

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