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What causes southeast Australia’s worst droughts?


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Ummenhofer, CC and England, MH and McIntosh, PC and Meyers, G and Pook, MJ and Risbey, JS and Sen Gupta, A and Taschetto, AS (2009) What causes southeast Australia’s worst droughts? Geophysical Research Letters, 36 (L04706). pp. 1-5. ISSN 0094-8276

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Since 1995, a large region of Australia has been gripped by the most severe drought in living memory, the so-called ‘‘Big Dry’’. The ramifications for affected regions are dire, with acute water shortages for rural and metropolitan areas, record agricultural losses, the dryingout of two of Australia’s major river systems and farreaching ecosystem damage. Yet the drought’s origins have remained elusive. For Southeast Australia, we show here that the ‘‘Big Dry’’ and other iconic 20th Century droughts, including the Federation Drought (1895–1902) and World War II drought (1937–1945), are driven by Indian Ocean variability, not Pacific Ocean conditions as traditionally assumed. Specifically, a conspicuous absence of Indian Ocean temperature conditions conducive to enhanced tropical moisture transport has deprived southeastern Australia of its normal rainfall quota. In the case of the ‘‘Big Dry’’, its unprecedented intensity is also related to recent higher temperatures. Citation: Ummenhofer, C. C., M. H. England, P. C. McIntosh, G. A. Meyers, M. J. Pook, J. S. Risbey, A. S. Gupta, and A. S. Taschetto (2009), What causes southeast Australia’s worst droughts?,

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Australia, drought, Indian Ocean variability, ocean temperature, "Big Dry"
Journal or Publication Title: Geophysical Research Letters
Page Range: pp. 1-5
ISSN: 0094-8276
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1029/2008GL036801
Additional Information: An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright 2009 American Geophysical Union.
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2009 01:21
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:03
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