Queensland’s multi-year Wet and Dry periods: implications for grazing enterprises and pasture resources

Article


McKeon, G., Stone, R., Ahrens, D., Cobon, D., Irvine, S. and Syktus, J.. 2021. "Queensland’s multi-year Wet and Dry periods: implications for grazing enterprises and pasture resources." The Rangeland Journal. 43 (3), pp. 121-142. https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ20089
Article Title

Queensland’s multi-year Wet and Dry periods: implications
for grazing enterprises and pasture resources

ERA Journal ID3312
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsMcKeon, G. (Author), Stone, R. (Author), Ahrens, D. (Author), Cobon, D. (Author), Irvine, S. (Author) and Syktus, J. (Author)
Journal TitleThe Rangeland Journal
Journal Citation43 (3), pp. 121-142
Number of Pages22
Year2021
PublisherCSIRO Publishing
Place of PublicationAustralia
ISSN1036-9872
1834-7541
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ20089
Web Address (URL)https://www.publish.csiro.au/rj/RJ20089
Abstract

Year-to-year variability in rainfall has long been recognised as a major issue in managing livestock enterprises across Australia's grazing lands. Extension products documenting rainfall variability have been developed over the last 30 years and have been keenly sought by producers and their advisors. This paper describes multi-year rainfall variability from 1889 to 2020 and provides the basis for classifying the 131 years of rainfall into 18 discrete Wet (7), Average (2) and Dry (9) periods as presented in the 'Queensland's Extended Wet and Dry Periods' poster. The classification was consistent with: Analysis of fluctuations and trends in the long-term time series of reported livestock numbers; drought declarations for government assistance; and documented periods of pasture resource degradation and recovery. Rainfall during the nine Wet and Average periods was +18% above the long-term average annual rainfall (LTAAR), in contrast to the Dry periods with-17% below LTAAR. Wet periods (including Average) were on average 7 years in duration, ranging from 5 to 9 years. Dry periods were on average 8 years in duration and ranged from 5 to 13 years. Detailed analysis of the effects of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon indicated that: (a) the Wet/Dry periods were dominated by different frequencies and amounts of rainfall in La Nina/El Nino years; (b) rainfall in ENSO neutral years was generally above and below average rainfall for the Wet or Dry periods respectively; (c) the frequency of ENSO year-types was less important than the overall rainfall surplus (or deficit) in La Nina (or El Nino) years within the Wet (or Dry) periods respectively; and (d) the timing of Wet and Dry periods was correlated with indices of quasi-decadal and inter-decadal variability in components (sea surface temperatures and atmospheric pressures) of the global climate system. Climatic risk assessment systems for grazing management at multi-year timescales are yet to be developed.

KeywordsRainfall variability, drought, El Nino Southern Oscillation, ENSO, El Nino, La Nina, quasi-decadal, Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation, degradation, pasture recovery, livestock production
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020410404. Environmental management
300299. Agriculture, land and farm management not elsewhere classified
300302. Animal management
300206. Agricultural spatial analysis and modelling
300499. Crop and pasture production not elsewhere classified
300207. Agricultural systems analysis and modelling
300205. Agricultural production systems simulation
370299. Climate change science not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsDepartment of Environment and Science, Queensland
Centre for Applied Climate Sciences
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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