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Can Decadal Climate Variability (DCV) impact on cropping systems management?

Meinke, H. Dr; Ph.: (07) 4688 1378; Fax: (07) 4688 1193;

Research Organisation: Department of Primary Industries - APSRU, PO Box 102, Toowoomba Qld 4350

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


With the help of a cropping systems simulation environment, conduct a case study that examines the economic and environmental impact of DCV on a cropping system.

Demonstrate the impact that DCV information could have on this system if it was used operationally for decision making.

Provide recommendations how to augment current climate forecasting systems by quantifying relationships between low frequency ocean/atmosphere variations and rainfall variability over Australia.


Phases of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), which provide an assessment of likely inter-annual variability of rainfall, have over the past few years become a very useful and widely adopted tool in cropping systems management, particularly in north-eastern Australia. However, it has now been recognised that the Australian climate is also affected by changes that occur on decadal and longer time scales. Incorporating this knowledge into existing seasonal forecasting schemes could provide the next major breakthrough in climate science and agricultural systems management.

However, before this can be achieved, some fundamental questions need to be addressed. These include:

  • The predicability of decadal climate variability (DCV);
  • Impact of DCV on performance of current cropping systems;
  • Management options in response to DCV information;
  • Value of responding to DCV information using economic and sustainability indicators; and
  • Connectivity between currently applied SOI information, sea surface temperatures (SST) and DCV information.

With the help of cropping systems simulation models and long-term rainfall records we will quantify for two selected cases:

  • the current impact of DCV on cropping systems;
  • the degree of 'signal amplification' that can be expected when filtering climatic data through production models;
  • the likely value of an improved seasonal forecast that accounts for DCV; and the
  • scope and impact of crop management changes based on DCV information.


Project has commenced

Period: starting date 1998-07; completion date 1999-06

Status: Ongoing

Keywords: seasonal forecasts, crop management, climatology

Publications: None as yet


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