THE CLIMATE KELPIE BLOG: Northern Australia monsoon prediction

Posted by eConnect on 30th April 2014

Research objective

Improve the simulation and the prediction by rainfall-related products for agriculture in tropical Australia, focusing on wet-season onset (on the seasonal timescale) and on monsoon bursts and breaks (on the intraseasonal timescale).

Project duration

2010 – 2014


In May 2013 the Bureau started using POAMA-2 forecasts for its official seasonal climate outlook. POAMA-2 includes a new ocean data assimilation system. The new ocean data assimilation system in POAMA-2 has led to an increase in SST forecast skill in the Pacific Ocean, mostly due to significant improvements in the assimilation of salinity.

Currently there are two versions of POAMA-2 forecasts, seasonal and multi-week forecasts. The skill of POAMA is similar in both versions in regard to the wet season onset. The improvements have led to skill improvements and should form the basis for the next version of POAMA. This system is state-of-the-art and paves the way for further developments in future.

The North Australian Wet Season Onset webpages has a brief description of the project details and can be found at the POAMA Experimental website.

The new wet season onset webpage for real-time forecasts is now also available. This website shows the seasonal outlook details for the coming wet season onset, maps of the onset dates for El Nino, La Nina, neutral and All Years, forecast accuracy using different start dates (June, July, August and September) and information about the outlook.

The skill of POAMA is relatively high in simulating the climate variability associated with the El Nino-Southern Oscillation and the wet season onset dates. However, as has been identified in this project, POAMA is unable to replicate the observed trend to wetter conditions (and earlier wet season onset dates) in north-western Australia. We therefore recommend more research on this topic.

Read the final report as MSOffice Word [28 kb] or PDF [70 kb].

Research contact

Dr Wasyl Drosdowsky or Dr Matt Wheeler

Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research

Phone: 03 9669 4000

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