DIRE DRY LIKE FEDERATION DROUGHT
A warm winter and low rainfalls have made drought a stark reality.
The current conditions were the driest on record over a 14-month period for areas across New South Wales.
It’s a significant drought. It compares to 1902, the year the Federation drought peaked, the Boer War ended, and women got the right to vote in New South Wales and federal elections.
During the Federation drought, the Darling River virtually ran dry at Bourke in NSW, and the Australian wheat crop was all but lost. 1902 was a very bad year, but it came at the end of a prolonged period of dry weather which spanned seven to eight years.
The systems which usually bring rain simply haven’t come for New South Wales.
During summer there’s usually a feed of tropical moisture from the tropical monsoon coming south. But that didn’t happen.
Frontal systems that would normally start affecting southern Aus- tralia more generally during the winter mostly passing south of the continent affecting Tasmania and some of southern Victoria pocket.
University of Melbourne Mandy Freud has been studying past Australian climates using corals, ice cores, tree rings and cave records to investigate what the climate was like up to 800 years ago.
Ms Freud said she had been looking at 30 and 50 year trends in warm and cool season rainfall, going back 400 years.
The north is getting wetter during the warm season getting all the rain and the south is getting drier during the winter season when rain is expected,” she said.
“The Murray Darling Basin has experienced an unusual declining trend in rainfall for the past 30 years.”
There has a decline in rainfall over almost the past 50 years that has been linked with a change in the Southern Annular Mode that describes how far the westerly wind belt can move up into the south of Australia.
Murray River nearly dry in 1902