CLIMATE scientists warn that drought must remain a top priority for Australians with another potential blow to the country’s economy always ready to return.
University of Southern Queensland Professor Roger Stone heads up the University’s Centre for Applied Climate Sciences and is Vice President of the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organisation Services Commission.
Professor Stone said despite periodic rain, drought in Australia was always lurking and kept coming back with a vengeance.
“Every time it is devastating to many rural communities, including farmer and producer wellbeing, as well as a massive drain on national economy with billions lost. Australia simply can’t afford to delay efforts to ease the damage wrought by drought,” he said.
The University of Southern Queensland is home to the Queensland Drought Mitigation Centre (QDMC) which is a collaboration of national and international climate modelling expertise, created with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Department of Environment and Science.
“This is one of the world’s leading research centres for drought including climate factors, policy and associated economic systems – one of only two universities globally recognised by the UN’s Integrated Drought Management program to work in this area,” Professor Stone said.
“Through QDMC, our climate scientists deliver a range of research, development and extension projects; improve seasonal forecasting; and provide tools to support producers in their decision making when it comes to drought preparedness.
“This research includes climate, agricultural, insurance, and water resource models to provide stronger predictive capability for regional agricultural, water planning and environmental management.
“It helps communities become much better able to withstand the complexities of droughts and build resilience to deal with the shock that comes through the system.
“And when the drought starts to break, help them capitalise on the opportunities that come with the return of rain.”
Professor Stone said drought would continue to be one of the biggest challenges Australia faces into the future.
“Climate change projections show droughts are going to get worse with past patterns reappearing but more severe,” he said.
“But we can get ready for it and plan accordingly, ensuring future growth and success.”