Tackling drought with data visualisation

How climate change can make catastrophic weather systems linger for longer

Many parts of Australia have suffered a run of severe and, in some cases, unprecedented weather events this summer. One common feature of many of these events – including the Tasmanian heatwave and the devastating Townsville floods – was that they were caused by weather systems that parked themselves in one place for days or weeks on end.

It all began with a blocking high – so-called because it blocks the progress of other nearby weather systems – in the Tasman Sea throughout January and early February.

This system prevented rain-bearing cold fronts from moving across Tasmania, and led to prolonged hot dry northwesterly winds, below-average rainfall and scorching temperatures…


Tackling drought with data visualisation

A comparison of 2010’s year-to-date rainfall (the left hand image) to 2018’s year-to-date rainfall (the right hand image), inside the platform

The long stretch of dry weather is putting pressure on farmers and communities across the country. Plus climate and weather experts across the globe are predicting that droughts are going to become longer and more severe in some parts of the country.

The severity of the current drought has certainly got everyone thinking about what we can do to help our farmers. And while there is certainly no easy fix, at least we know it’s top of mind for some of our best and brightest tech-sperts from Data61.

Part of addressing this challenge involves gathering and interpreting disparate pieces of data to provide a comprehensive picture of conditions and drought response across Australia. We’ve worked with the Joint Agency Drought Taskforce to apply our Terria interface to create the National Drought Map.

The National Drought Map is an online tool that brings together information on weather conditions, agricultural industries, state government drought declared areas and government drought support….

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