New CSIRO Climate Forecast for SE Australia Unbelievable

On Thursday the New South Wales Government officially declared the nine-year drought ended.  The very next day the CSIRO released a report warning that the ‘current drought’ appears to be at least partly linked to ‘climate change’. 

The CSIRO report entitled ‘Climate variability and change in south-eastern Australia’ is an initiative of the South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative, SEACI, lead by CSIRO with input from the Bureau of Meteorology and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. 

The report forecasts a future decline in rainfall and works from the assumption there is already long term decline. 

The first diagram, Figure 1, however, only shows historical rainfall data for the period 1997 to 2009 excluding the last very wet ten months.   The first graph, Figure 2, shows inflows, not rainfall, across the Murray Darling Basin without explaining that many variables impact inflows that have nothing to do with rainfall including changes in land management, salt interception and drainage schemes etcetera.  

A scientific report of this kind might have begun with a discussion of the complete historical rainfall record and avoided confusing inflows with actual rainfall. 

The report’s forecast of a drier future could come to pass, but the track record of Australian climate scientists for predicting rainfall even one season ahead is dismal.  The Bureau incorrectly forecast below average rainfall for spring this year for the upper Murray catchments just before the region was flooded.   Last year the forecast for a hot and dry summer resulted in drought breaking rains across the upper Murray Darling Basin.

Rainfall – the most significant climate variable – is spectacularly changeable and non-robust from one climate model to the next. 

Professor Gareth Paltridge in his book ‘The Climate Caper’ (Connor Court, 2009, pg 21) makes reference to an Australian National University study of the various simulations of rainfall as produced by the IPCC models.  The simulations of average Australian rainfall apparently range from less than 200mm per year to greater than 1000mm per year.  The actual measured value is 450mm.  Considering the forecasts for the late 21st Century, apparently more than half the models predict an increase in rainfall over Australia, and the rest predict a decrease.   The most extreme decrease is from the CSIRO IPCC model which suggests that average rainfall over Australia 100 years from now will be 100mm per year less. 

At the global scale, according to AGW theory, an increase in carbon dioxide should lead to an increase in water vapour concentrations and therefore more cloud.   But there is some empirical evidence to suggest that water vapour feedback is in fact negative, not positive.

In summary, there is no reason to suggest that the new SEACI forecast for a decline in rainfall across south eastern Australia will be any more accurate that previous CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology seasonal and long range forecasts that have proven unreliable.   Furthermore it is of concern that the report purportedly about south eastern Australia, released in October 2010, makes continual reference to the ‘ongoing drought’ and ‘current drought’ when south eastern Australia is no longer in drought.


43 Responses to New CSIRO Climate Forecast for SE Australia Unbelievable

  1. el gordo October 23, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    O/T Vaclav Klaus believes Bob Carter ‘deserves thanks and praise for repudiating the heretic-hunting climate orthodoxy.’

  2. John Sayers October 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    I’m losing patients with these guys and gals – They clearly have an agenda that doesn’t correlate with the facts.

    “The report forecasts a future decline in rainfall”

    based on what? – computer models?

    go away!

  3. el gordo October 23, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    ‘The current dry spell since 1996 in south-eastern Australia has been shown to be the driest 13-year period in the last 110 years of reliable climate records.’ Hmmmm… dubious.

    ‘It surpasses the previous record drought that extended from 1936 to 1945.’ That is at the end of the previous warm PDO and perfectly natural.

    ‘Overall, due to the influence of climate change, it would be expected that future conditions will be drier and warmer than the long-term historical climate in south-eastern Australia.’ They are wrong and its because of the dodgy models.

  4. spangled drongo October 23, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Some good comments on climate models:

  5. Luke October 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    An utterly appalling misrepresentation of the report. Probably more socratic irony.

    This alone indicates no idea “The first graph, Figure 2, shows inflows, not rainfall, across the Murray Darling Basin without explaining that many variables impact inflows that have nothing to do with rainfall including changes in land management, salt interception and drainage ” Funnily enough all those months ago I thought the ploughing in of orchards and no rice may have had something to do with a certain liquid water?

    Now I wonder how one might be able to put contemporary flows in a historical perspective. Hmmmm

    And this comment “The very next day the CSIRO released a report warning that the ‘current drought’ appears to be at least partly linked to ‘climate change’” Now Jen that’s just weird and probably shows why you guys don’t get it. Or perhaps “prefer not to get it”. Perhaps just climatic irony?

    But perhaps the most disturbing thing – not even a twitter as to what has been found …. sigh – why bother.

    Meanwhile green vote increases.

  6. cementafriend October 23, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Jennifer, Are you aware of The Institution of Engineers Australia (IEAust) publication “Australian Rainfall and Runoff” 1998 IEAust 11 National Circuit Barton ACT? I have volume one “A guide to flood estimation” but have lost Volume two which has all the rainfall data and runoff measurements (such as dam inflows, peak hourly rainfall across the country etc). I have used the publication for stormwater calculations (book 8 of volume 1)
    It is very clear that rainfall and runoff are engineering data as described in the Qld Professional Engineers Act (PE Act), Also, assessment of the data or calculation with the data for flooding, dam inflows etc would be an engineering service. The PE Act requires that anyone who provides an engineering service in Qld must be registered. A breach is a criminal offense. The act applies to the State (ie all people working in, with or for government or government organisations) and would apply to people working at CSIRO. Has anyone looked at the qualifications of the authors of the CSIRO report or who sined off on the report? Are they registered professional engineers? If the person, who signed off on it, is a registered PE he could be reported for a breach of the code of ethics and/or incompetence. It is time that someone took these climate alarmist and green clowns to court!
    I would think the mere mention of court action will see them retreat very fast.
    Keep well and thanks for your efforts.

  7. Luke October 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Ah yes – the true methods of the sceptics – intimidation.

  8. cementafriend October 23, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    Jennifer, Llooked a bit more closely at the CSIRO report. No reference to the IEAust publication and I could find no cross reference to the 100’s of articles referenced in the IEAust publication. I would call the report preparation incompetent.
    It would appear that two of the three project leaders (Paul Holper & Ian Smith) have no engineering qualifications, Holper claims to have a degree in Chemistry. Bryson Bates would appear to have a degree in Engineering Science and claims to be a CPEng. However, he is not registered in Queensland. So someone could take these individuals on for a) not being registered and b) for being incompetent.

  9. cohenite October 24, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Very interesting Cementafriend; many people assume CSIRO is an objective reporter of science but is ‘mission statement’ says that it is an entrepreneurial agent of government policy.

  10. Neville October 24, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Also looks like that heat lost somewhere in some pipeline might not exist either and that will change the temp predictions for the planet plus have a carryover effect on rainfall predictions as well.

  11. Neville October 24, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    Interesting article by Willis Eschenbach at WUWT about some of the IPCC numbers.

    If the numbers are wrong then predicted temps and rainfall can be thrown out the window.

  12. Neville October 24, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    If you look at the time series graphs on Australian rainfall ( just Australia as a continent, not states) and set the toggle to a 15 year running average you’ll find that the line was below average for the first 67 years and of course mostly above average since. (1968 to 2009 )

    Setting a 5 year running average looks a little better but only just, anyhow Australia was a much drier continent from 1900 to 1967 than from 1968 to 2009.

  13. John Sayers October 24, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    The Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (GVIAP) in Australia has been increasing since 2001 yet from 2005 – 2008 the amount of water used has dramatically decreased.

    Our farmers are becoming more efficient in their use of water despite the accusations to the contrary.

    Clearly the only real drought occurred from 2006 through to 2009 yet even still production was maintained.

    as a side note does anyone know of this guy?

    his articles on Gerlach (1991) and Plimer’s Heaven and Earth and volcanoes are excellent. He has also published the full Gerlach (1991) paper which clearly shows that Gerlach had no idea. Check out his articles on the most misquoted papers.

  14. Malcolm Hill October 24, 2010 at 12:13 pm #


    As I understand it there are another set of figures around that shows that Gross Agricultural Product Type in the MDB, per ML of water used out of the system.

    If there was free trading of water, it would migrate downstream towards those products and producers that are making the better uses of it. ie the higher GAP/ML used.

    That seemed to scared the pants off the Victorians, and Brumby placed a cap of 4% of the amount that can be traded in one year..thereby limiting its flight to more efficient users ..up stream and downstream.

    Flood irrigating pastures to produce milk is a shocking waste ..much more desirable that it goes to producing some good quality booze heh..get more money for it as well..or did.

  15. Another Ian October 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm #


    A marginal comment from I.G. Simmons “The Ecology of Natural Resources” p. 143

    “Even a gallon of beer uses 350 gallons of water, much of which appears to remain in the product”.

  16. John Sayers October 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

    I think Ian was referring to wine – my preference for sure. 🙂

    I’m not a beer drinker.

  17. Luke October 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    It’s no wonder CSIRO are pessimistic. Add the land use feedbacks (like rampant catchment overclearing) and the climate impact is even worse.

    Impact of historical land cover change on daily indices of climate
    extremes including droughts in eastern Australia

    R. C. Deo,1 J. I. Syktus,2 C. A. McAlpine,1,3 P. J. Lawrence,4
    H. A. McGowan,1 and S. R. Phinn1

    Received 9 February 2009; accepted 24 March 2009; published 25 April 2009.

    There is growing scientific evidence that anthropogenic
    land cover change (LCC) can produce a significant impact
    on regional climate. However, few studies have quantified
    this impact on climate extremes and droughts. In this study,
    we analysed daily data from a pair of ensemble simulations
    using the CSIRO AGCM for the period 1951–2003 to
    quantify the impact of LCC on selected daily indices of
    climate extremes in eastern Australia. The results showed: an
    increase in the number of dry and hot days, a decrease in daily
    rainfall intensity and wet day rainfall, and an increase in the
    decile-based drought duration index for modified land cover
    conditions. These changes were statistically significant for all
    years, and especially pronounced during strong El Nin˜o
    events. Therefore it appears that LCC has exacerbated climate
    extremes in eastern Australia, thus resulting in longer-lasting
    and more severe droughts. Citation: Deo, R. C., J. I. Syktus,
    C. A. McAlpine, P. J. Lawrence, H. A. McGowan, and S. R. Phinn
    (2009), Impact of historical land cover change on daily indices of
    climate extremes including droughts in eastern Australia, Geophys.
    Res. Lett., 36, L08705, doi:10.1029/2009GL037666.

  18. el gordo October 24, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    …’it could be argued that a return to wetter conditions is likely in the near future, and that any association of the current dry
    period with global warming is simply fortuitous. This is considered to be unlikely by SEACI researchers.’

    Fortuitous? As in chance or a lucky coincidence? They may have lost the plot, which is what I said to Quiggin just the other day and he banned me for life.

  19. spangled drongo October 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    LCC has been happening on a large scale in SE Aust for over a century and what has the rainfall done as a result?

    Remained normal!

    What has the temperature done as a result?

    Remained normal!

  20. John Sayers October 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Did anyone get to read the article I posted on volcanoes, CO2 and ocean acidification?

  21. spangled drongo October 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm #


    What’s another couple of thousand under-sea volcanoes?

    More low LOSU for the GCMs.

    But getting back to climate forecasts and water control bureaucracies, here is more of the catastrophe industry at work. The Sunday Mail had an editorial on the massive bureaucracies being generated by modern water utilities who have been getting enormous salary increases, delivering limited water but siphoning off lots of our cash.
    Staff numbers are escalating and the salary bill is going in only one direction.
    Considering we are being asked not to expand our water usage from drought time levels, our ever increasing water bills are just the start of what lies ahead.

    This is our future in all services. Less and less for more and more.

  22. spangled drongo October 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm #


    Read your link some more and improved my education. [not hard]

    If volcanoes and humans are producing about 20-30 gtcpa each [50-60 gtcpa] yet the atmo is increasing by only 15 gtcpa then there is a lot being absorbed [more than we produce] mainly by oceans and vegetation.
    Climate is always dynamic, never really in equilibrium, and as the oceans absorb more CO2 and become more “acidic”they produce more CO2 absorbing organisms just as the earth also produces evermore vegetation [doing likewise] which jointly have a negative feedback effect.
    Also, the coming 9 billion population will sequester a lot of carbon for 2 or 3 generations.

    As I told Luke, a lot of Plan B is automatic.

  23. el gordo October 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    Looking at this abstract by Agnihotri et al. ‘Evidence for solar forcing on the Indian monsoon during the last millennium’, I was wondering if the 60 year periodicity might be related to the PDO?

    For the sake of Luke, the solar driver is real.

  24. cohenite October 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    John, I looked at the volcanoes article/paper; I will use it as a reference; the official – Gerlach – line is obviously deficient.

  25. Another Ian October 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    See Lucia at

    “Below, I show the 12 month average temperatures from simulations and GISSTemp in non-anomaly degrees C” (her Figure 1).

    [Note that this graph shows the results for two versions of CSIRO’s model (CSIRO_MK3_0 and Mk3_5)]

    Further comment e.g.

    “The Met Office’s Fact 6 is “Climate models predict the main features of future climate”.

    This is a particularly odd sort of “fact”. It’s not clear to me how they can even begin to prove any claim that models can predict the main features of future climate. If we go by past IPCC projections, models have a less-than-wonderful track record predicting the future — as in things that happen after climate models are run.

    The narrative in the UK Met Offices “Fact” page seems to explain the models can “predict” the some select features of past climate, particularly when those features were already known before the models “predicted” them.

    That said, there are a number of historical observations of climate that models “predict” poorly.

    One of these is the average global surface temperature in non-anomaly degrees C for the entire 20th century. ”

    Maybe doubts about this latest production are also in order?

  26. Schiller Thurkettle October 26, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    Drought as an artifact of measurement error:

  27. Huh? October 26, 2010 at 5:50 am #

    The warmist conspiracy is world-wide. See

    Number of countries that reported record low temperatures so far this year: 0

    Of course, many countries have HAD record lows: they just refuse to report them.


  28. el gordo October 26, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    News that there is a build-up of snow and ice in Antarctica should be on the front page of the Fairfax rags, but it’s outside the consensus and is not newsworthy.

  29. Neville October 26, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    If the bedwetters at this blog are really concerned about the effects of co2 they should be demonstrating in China ( please leave today, pleezzz ) if you really understand the facts of the case ( you don’t ).

    Anyhow read the extract from the Chinese paper presenting the size of the increase in CF power stations, staggering to say thje least.

    We could close down a Hazelwood PS every month of the year and our effort wouldn’t make a bee’s dick bit of difference to CAGW, but importantly to the idiot left it would make a huge difference to our competiveness, cost of power to our poorest citizens and of course export more of our jobs overseas.

  30. spangled drongo October 26, 2010 at 10:14 am #


    You’ve also noticed it is hard to get details on old warming or new cooling?

    Could it be that like Aust, the old warm records have been “adjusted”?

    Many country centres had their lowest maxima ever this year and Charlotte Pass had a -20c.

  31. spangled drongo October 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    This test shows just how good “spatially integrated projections” are:

    We compare the output of various climate models to temperature and precipitation observations at 55 points around the globe. We also spatially aggregate model output and observations over the contiguous USA using data from 70 stations, and we perform comparison at several temporal scales, including a climatic (30-year) scale. Besides confirming the findings of a previous assessment study that model projections at point scale are poor, results show that the spatially integrated projections are also poor.

  32. el gordo October 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    ‘Overall, due to the influence of climate change, it would be expected that future conditions will be drier and warmer than the long-term historical climate in south-eastern Australia.’

    The long term historical climate is too short for me. Has nothing been done to look further back, relying on paleo evidence? What of the great PDO shift of the 1750s and the massive floods which followed in south-east Australia?

    Any helpful links will be greatly appreciated, I need something to get my teeth into.

  33. el gordo October 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Found evidence for a paleoflood which measured 18.1 meters at Overland Corner in 1750.

  34. gavin October 26, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    el “Any helpful links will be greatly appreciated, I need something to get my teeth into”

    Since you asked, bite into this update!

    Hey; note this!

    “Retreat has revealed two vegetation trimlines. The older is a Little Ice Age trimline-the former the trimline is from the 1950-1970 period” but the story goes on

  35. spangled drongo October 26, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    el gordo,

    Interesting stuff but what do you make of some of those conclusions? Like ” This means that every year there is a 1000 to one chance of a flood of that magnitude occurring, as it certainly will, at some time in the future.”
    I would have thought those odds would shorten after 250 years.

    Also if: “Extreme floods are nature’s way of flushing out the salt,” buying out some irrigation water is not going to solve the problem. Just let the floods do it.

  36. spangled drongo October 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm #


    This might be your problem:

  37. hunter October 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Meanwhile Dr. Judith Curry is being called a heretic for daring to point out the flaws in AGW theory that Luke and other jackass trolls bray in defense of daily.
    And since GCM models have no demonstrated ability to forecast regional climate on decadal scales, one has to wonder why so many big science institutions are making what are demonstrably false science claims and spending so much effort on political advocacy?
    As to green parties- you have a popular group in Australia with a song about giving Australia back to the aboriginees. Nihilism and self-loathing have always attracted enviro-extremists. The good news is that if rational people resist their madness, they eventually go away.
    The CO2 obsession is a crank pseudo-religious movement. It will be as embarrassing and as wiped away as eugenics.

  38. gavin October 27, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    SD; I got to wonder why you are so bothered by the US economy. Who’s team are you on hey?

    Anyway that last post of mine was just a concession to el gordo that global paleo time lines are evident in glacier remains (moraines).

  39. el gordo October 27, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    The point is that with a negative IOD and back to back La Nina (as in the 1950s floods) the odds of a gigantic deluge is more plausible and much shorter than 1000/1.

    What is painfully clear is that little paleo work has been done.

  40. spangled drongo October 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    “As to green parties- you have a popular group in Australia with a song about giving Australia back to the aboriginees. Nihilism and self-loathing have always attracted enviro-extremists. The good news is that if rational people resist their madness, they eventually go away.”

    Hunter, trouble is there are not enough rationals left to make headway. We are giving all our major tourist attractions back to the aborigines so they can close them down and collect “siddown” money.

    And gavin, I don’t consider myself on anyone’s “team” but I lived on the NE coast of Aust during the Battle of the Coral Sea when the yanks pulled our chestnuts out of the fire for us and I have been extremely grateful ever since. For that and many other reasons too numerous to mention, it gets on my wick when Australians use them as a soft target for their misguided, disgruntled, mostly left wing abuse.
    I seem to know too many David Hicks’ that never face the consequences of their actions. [and I’m not saying that you come into that category]

  41. John McLean October 27, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    The CSIRO has a poor track record of climate predictions. Its reports even fudged a graph of Queensland data and gave a false impression. (Note that I didn’t say “to give” although you might draw your own conclusions.)

    See peer-reviewed paper

    On the matter of the Murray-Darling, web page is a bit dated now but still has some interesting comments. One day when I get time (about 2015 at the current rate) I’ll update it.

  42. John Nicol October 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Jennifer, this is a very good analysis of what amounts to an awful con job by CSIRO and BOM whose integrity sinks further into an abyss every time they present a report. of their work. Their historical survey as presented is, to use a well known phase in the correct context, “a traversity”.

    To pick up from your second last paragraph, may I say that I believe that the feedback from clouds HAS to be negative if such feedbacks are necessary for keeping the earth cool. They will certainly contribute to cooling, by their reflective characteristics, but whether this can be defined as a negative feedback is still debatable, I believe, since by definition this requires a process responsible for developing clouds to be one which contributes to heating of the earth. Certainly the sun does that by warming water and causing evaporation, and also gets reflected by the clouds, so in that sence the clouds provide negative feedback against heating from the sun, but this is a purely external mechanism. As far as any “greenhouse effect” is concerned, the clouds perhaps provide negative feedback against what might be an effect of increased water vapour, and if that is the case, then the feedback must be total, otherwise, assuming the greenhouse effect is real, (a position to which I do NOT now subscribe), there would be a runaway heating simply because of the warming by water vapour, causing more vapour, causing more warming…… Given the mixing of the atmosphere laterally, I believe that the absence of this galloping warming, even on a local scale over the azores or in the doldrums, let alone world wide, is one of the many pieces of clear evidence that Arrhenius’ theory is a whole lot of bunkham! John Nicol

  43. Richard C (NZ) November 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm #


    I am following the fortunes (or otherwise) of a number of modeling groups including CSIRO and am documenting my line of investigation in response to this post here:

    And to the CSIRO models generally here:

    Up-thread and down-thread of that you will find a wider context covering developments in radiation transfer in models, cloud parameterization and various other issues.

    Feel free to leave a comment or follow my postings (or not) as you wish.


    Richard Cumming.

    P. S. In the Open Threads categories you will find what we have in the “Climate”, “Climate science” and “Australia” categories plus much more. An easy INDEX for quick loading (wait 10 secs) rather than accessing through Homepage is here.

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