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The challenge

Informing a proactive approach to drought

It’s not always clear when a drought starts or ends, and current drought responses in affected areas tend to be reactive.

Forecasting drought impacts to inform national strategies. ©  iStock

Climate forecast information is not enough to predict drought impacts. But forecast information for agricultural production and farm profit could be used proactively to identify areas at risk of being impacted by a drought.

Our response

An early warning system for drought impacts

We’re developing an online, early warning system for drought that links Bureau of Meteorology weather data and forecasts to crop, pasture and farm profit models to predict farm business outcomes.

It’s being developed in partnership with the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

Our progress: a prototype featuring monthly forecasts 

We have developed a prototype, where forecasts for the coming 12 months are updated monthly for the entire Australian agricultural zone on a 5kmx5km grid.

We are investigating sources of socio-economic data that may be useful in providing complementary indicators on drought effects on communities beyond the farm gate.

The results

Informing the nation's response

An early warning system for drought would help inform the nation’s response to developing dry conditions.

It would also help the agriculture sector anticipate and prepare for drought, by providing valuable insights on impacts to agricultural production (e.g. crop yields, pasture growth) and farming profits relative to previous years.

The financial and insurance sectors would also benefit from insights into industry exposure to drought and climate risk and potentially support new insurance products.

Contact us

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