THROUGH the Millennium drought of 2001 to 2009, I was optimistic that it would rain again, that the drought would end and probably with flooding rains.
The drought did break, and the aggregated average annual rainfall for the Murray Darling Basin as calculated by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) shows 2010 was the wettest year on record. The last time it was nearly as wet was 1956 and before that 1950.
The BOM only provides an official average annual rainfall for the Murray Darling back to 1900, but if we consider individual locations, like Bourke, the previous really wet year is 1890. That year the township of Bourke flooded, with historic photographs showing men in boats rowing down the main street.
There are exactly 60 years between 1890, 1950 and 2010.
While believers in anthropogenic global warming claim the climate is on a new trajectory with continuous warming, there is an alternative scientific literature that recognises these 60-year cycles. For example, Nicola Scafetta’s 2010 paper ‘Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications’ in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (volume 72, pages 951-970).
Bendigo-based long-range weather forecaster, Kevin Long, uses such patterns for his forecasts, and is very pessimistic about rainfall in the Murray Darling.
Mr Long is predicting that from 2016 there will be a rapid return to the cooler and drier climate of the early 1800s.
Remember Charles Sturt discovered the Darling River near Bourke in 1828 as a series of stagnant, saline ponds.
Mr Long is forecasting that this drier climate may last for the duration of the solar minimum cycle or approximately 30 years. The Maunder Minimum of 1645 to 1715 and the Dalton Minimum of 1790 to 1830 are the last examples of recurring solar hibernation periods.
Theoretically the Murray Darling should be in a much better position to deal with prolonged drought, given the water infrastructure built over the 20th century and recent water reform mandating the buy back of many irrigation licenses.
But in reality water reform has done nothing to reduce the dependence of the Lower Lakes on the upstream reservoirs and this creates an unsustainable burden on the entire system, particularly during drought.
Furthermore, there should be more awareness and concern about the relatively low flow at Lock 1 – indeed diminishing flow for the same quantity of rainfall since the 1980s. This is probably a consequence of improved land management throughout the Basin meaning water soaking into the soils rather than running off, as well as more trees, and salt interceptions schemes evaporating more water.
Daily flow data for Lock 1 is available back to 1967, and it shows that while rainfall might be cyclical, flow volume has been in general decline over recent decades. Historic low volumes were recorded at Lock 1 during the Millennium drought. Even with the record rainfall in the Murray Darling during 2010, flow at Lock 1 never reached the heights it did during the early 1990 and was a long way short of the peaks during the early 1970s.
The text of this article was first published as one of my regular fortnightly columns in The Land newspaper on May 29, 2014. Data used to construct the chart shown in this blog post was sourced from the Murray Darling Basin Authority. Click on the chart for a better view, that begins in 1967.
Nick Heywood says
And food prices are going to do what during this period?…. Go up! And the world is in what economic condition during this period?… Rubbish!
So, we have leaders wondering around worying about plain labels on ciggerettes packets and weather or not someone’s motivation for winking was malicious or not? EEEeerrrr We’re *^%$ Thats censored for not good 🙂
Ian Wilson says
I think that Kevin Long and I must on the same frequency! However, it may
not just be the Murray-Darling Basin that has a dry period.
Wilson, Ian R.G., 2009, Can We Predict the Next Indian Mega-Famine?,
Energy and Environment, Vol 20, Numbers 1-2, pp. 11-24.
Catastrophic multi-year failure of the Indian monsoon has caused at least eight mega-famines in India over the last 1100 years. Historical data shows that seven out of the eight mega-famines have either started within ± one year of the year of greatest asymmetry in the Sun’s motion about the Solar System’s centre-of-mass, or 11 years ± one year after this event. The Sun is currently experiencing a maximum in the asymmetry of its motion about the centre-of-mass. Evidence is presented to show that there is almost a 1-in-4 the chance that there will be another Indian mega-famine in 2018-20. While the chance of such a catastrophic event occurring is small, it is large enough that the governments on the Indian sub-continent should take precautionary measures to confront this potentially devastating threat.
YEARS_____Duration (Years)______ FAMINE’S EFFECTS
941 – 950________9?____________ May have continued until 1022
_____________________________entire provinces were depopulated
1148 – 1159_____11____________ The 11 year famine
1344 – 1345______3?___________The Great Famine – The emperor was unable
_____________________________to obtain the necessaries for his own
_____________________________household. The famine continued for years
_____________________________and millions perished.
1396 – 1407_____12____________The Durga Devi famine
1659 – 1661______3?___________Not a drop of rain fell for two years
1790 – 1792______3____________The Doji Bara, or skull famine. So many
_____________________________died that they couldn’t be buried.
1876 – 1878______3____________5,000,000 people died in India.
1899 – 1901______3?___________ Over 1.0 million people killed on the
Ian Wilson says
The Summary sheet at Kevin’s site claims that:
Another major drought period is scheduled to occur around the middle of this lunar cycle (2020).
2028 starts the next 18.6 year cycle when we should see another 2-3 year period of wetter climate.
These are the predictions for the rainfall in SE Australia (noticeably Victoria and Tasmania) that I gave in my Senate Submission in 2013 – but they were totally ignored by the Senate Committee.
Ian George says
Just some observations/speculations.
1890 was wet and was followed by 1893 (also an extremely wet year). Three years later in 1896, there was a severe heatwave followed by the Federation drought until 1902/4.
1950 was wet followed by the 1954-56 wet years. In Jan 1960, Oodnadatta recorded Australia’s highest temps of 50.7C and 50.6C. This was followed by a drought until 1967/8.
A pattern but more wetter years in the mid 950s.
Although not preceded by an extreme wet spell, 2010/11 were wet years followed by an extreme heatwave in Jan, 2013. A drought is beginning to manifest itself in parts of Australia. Another 7-10 year drought similar to the other two periods?
Roughly 60 year cycles. Between those cycles there seems to be no discernible pattern, except drought followed by wetter periods (ENSO?).
Rainfall in Australia overall has increased since the 1950s compared to earlier in the decade. Are we now going back to a drier period as experienced from 1896 – 1950 as we are starting to see signs of in SW Aust rainfall patterns?
It’s funny how the SC can be believe the flawed models but ignore the cyclical nature of climate and its drivers.
There’s possibly a roughly 60 year cycle in rainfall patterns, but there certainly doesn’t seem to be a pattern that reflects co2 emissions since 1950.
OZ, India, USA etc have experienced very extreme long periods of drought and flooding over the paleoclimate record and at present we are fortunate that we live in a modern era with better monitoring and forecasting of weather, backed up with modern technology plus the ability ( if we have the brains) to quickly use more R&D.
Wasting our money on clueless co2 taxes plus purchasing fake/ fraudulent/ corrupt co2 certificates won’t change the weather/climate/co2 levels/temp by a jot.
Ian Thomson says
Piers Corbyn has been telling us this for years.
Russian weather men , at a development conference, warned against immediate Arctic resource exploration , for this reason. That was about 2010.
As Nick Heywood notes our leaders are inactive. Actually working against our future interests.
Obama is trying his best to shut down power plants , power plants which could help feed people. Ours are working the same agenda.
Are they not as silly as they wish to appear? Is the agenda Agenda 21 ?
Obama and the fools who advise him have been yapping about reducing co2 emissions for years and have now chosen to try and bypass Congress to accomplish a multi billion $ waste of money to achieve nothing for thousands of years.
Part of their ridiculous explanation is to lessen drought conditions throughout the USA plus reduce SLR, temp, co2 levels etc etc. Yet China ,India etc keep building new coal fired power stns at an incredible pace and Germany and the EU are now building many more brown coal stns to try and mend their electricity grids. If it wasn’t so seriously stupid it would be the joke of the century.
Ian Thomson says
When, not if, they sell the Snowy, who will buy it ? ( Not to mention the push by State Govts to sell water assets.)
It may just make any forethought useless .
If, for instance, a huge offshore mega bank owns it we are probably at their discretion and mercy.
There is a segment in the “Muddied Waters” documentary, where a Snowy expert explains how, under the wonderful Water Act, Snowy can do what they like.
Abbot is going to return from the US, having sucked up to Obama and signed away our right to object, by ratifying some of the TPP.
He will be greeted as a hero , by short sighted financiers and agri-politicians and his poll results will make the party happy for a day.
Water is the ‘new oil ‘.
Ian George says
I wonder how the Obama administration would react to the power stations and fuel distributors suddenly having a ‘pang of conscious’ and reducing production of electricity and fuel by, say, 50% – all in the interests of ‘saving the planet’.
Of course, they would double their prices so they don’t miss out.
Ken Ring says
Many of us on the same page with this subject
Also likely to be a repeat of 1838-39, called the drought of the century
Ian Thomson says
Ah Neville you cynic, you have missed the altruism in it all. Barma and his puppet master Soros are going to save millions of Americans from suffering athsma. All that algae George wants to grow in the Gulf of Mexico is a much healthier option.
See the ‘study’ the other day, finding cynical people are more likely to get alzheimers . We must want to forget more bullshit, more quickly. See you’d forgotten about the athsmatic announcement already.
” where a Snowy expert explains how, under the wonderful Water Act, Snowy can do what they like.”
Unfortunately that is the case, but it isn’t only the Water Act 2007.
The SHL licence also has a more worrying State component to it which allows SHL to pretty much rape and pillage downstream.
The focus is on the derivatives market and SHL can and does make squillions for State and Federal coffers from a very small percentage of total electricity production. (approx 4-6%)
There is not really any value placed on the productive capacity of the actual water for inland irrigation.
SHL is not accountable for delivery of water, only it’s storage, capture and release.
Whenever things go wrong with the actual delivery of water allocation, all the different entities such as SWC, NOW and SHL are extremely good at pointing the finger at each other.
Re Kevin Long’s work.
Along with all people who are working to understand weather patterns and particularly seasonal rainfall forecasting, I encourage their efforts.
Us farmers in the MDB need to plan and plant according to the seasonal conditions.
In my patch of the MDB, we are having probably the best Autumn break we have seen for about 30 years.
The hand waving about el Nino etc and probabilities of ‘drier than average’ Winter/Spring 2014 are not really a useful risk management tool.
If we worked on that sort of information, we would be far too nervous to plant our winter cereal and oilseed crops into a perfect seed bed with an almost perfect subsoil moisture.
And last year, huge areas of NSW and QLD experienced a severe seasonal drought after the predictions of a wetter than average Winter/Spring. So they would have been reasonably confident to plant their crops, yet the outcome was quite devastating.
As far as irrigation goes, we need to plan and plant our annual crops in either Autumn or Spring.
Water reform has, very unfortunately, just made irrigation in the MDB riskier, more expensive and more complex.
Thanks for your comment and that link.
I’m currently about half way through your seminal work ‘The Lunar Code:How the moon affects our weather on earth”. I am learning a lot!
I will be ordering a few more copies through your website. In particular I would like to take a few copies with me to the Heartland Conference that I will be attending in July.
For others, you can order here… http://www.predictweather.co.nz/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=301
And Bazza, it includes everything you need to know about atmospheric tides.
Thanks again, Jennifer
PS. Sorry your comments are getting caught in pending… if you use the same email address and username they should go straight through after the first.
Another new study finds that the warming in the Atlantic ocean since 1975 was due to NATURAL ocean oscillations. Not due to increases in co2 emissions.
Another new study finds SLR around OZ is about 2mm a year or 200 mm a century and that’s about 8 inches.
The 2014 White et al study finds that this is consistent with global tidal gauge measurements. But they also found that the greatest rate of SLR was from 1920 to 1950 and that is also consistent with a number of recent studies.
Importantly this also backs up the recent study of global glacier retreat showing a faster retreat from 1920 to 1950.
So we can see zero correlation of SLR after 1950 to the increase in co2 emissions. In fact the new study finds that ENSO influence correlates closely with rise and fall of SLs around the OZ coastline. BIG surprise NOT.
Kevin Long says
The combined strength of four of the strongest naturally dry climate drivers will be driving the MDB climate into mega-drought condictions during this decade. The return of the bicentennial solar minimum is key to past and future climate trends. It all boils down to four natural dry climate forces, all combining during the next decade to keep rain fall generally down below the 70% average for most of the MDB. It could even go as low as 50%
FIRST the synchronized lunar and planet cycles will both be descending down to the driest part of their cycles in 2019/20 (this only occurs once every 297 years in Australia)
SECOND Antarctic sea ice extent has been trending up to now be at record high levels for the last 34 years. This growth in sea ice has gone han in hand with declining atmospheric humidity levels in the upper atmosphere.
THIRD The return of the bicentennial solar minimum cycle during the next 30 to 60 years will be the primary driver of cooler and dryer conditions world wide.
FOURTH The passage of the 60 year heat cycle, moving from its last heat peak in 2000 to its coolest period in 2030 will compound all of the above.
The secondary effects of all of the above are very likely to bring on the biggest Earth quakes and largest volcanic eruptions observed for 200 years, the trends of these events have been rising since the early 1990s.
The MDB average rainfall during the last three decades has been recording a 10% loss per decade, I believe this is primarily due to declining solar radiation levels, moving from the highest for 8000 years to presently the lowest for 100 years, this solar decline is expected to continue for at least another 3 decades, maybe 6 decades like it did in the 16th century, brining on the last little ice age.
I believe most farming enterprises will become unsustainable in the MDB during this decade and mass walk off will be the final result.
The irrigation farmers will be the first to go, many within three seasons.
Ian Wilson says
What is the Australian BOM trying to hide?
Want to know more about the climate around Australia before 1830?
It is only logical that you will be off to ferret through the dusty books in Russia then.
That Russian data could lead to conclusions like these from Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov.