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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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Abstract

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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