Weather and climate – getting the best information

By Joel Lisonbee, Bureau of Meteorology, Climate Liaison Services

The weather plays an important role in growing, holding, selling and eating mangoes, and to make predicting the weather easier, the Bureau of Meteorology provides more than just daily weather forecasts. It also has a wealth of information about long-range weather events, such as climate, which is freely available online for anyone to use, any time, but many people don't know what is available or where to find it.

Bureau of Meteorology home page

Bureau of Meteorology home page

The best place to start is the home page of the Bureau's web site, www.bom.gov.au . Below the daily weather observations you will find eight light blue boxes with links to the Bureau's other services. The Climate and Past Weather icon will take you to the climate information pages (www.bom.gov.au/climate) where there is a lot of useful information, so take some time to look around.



Three climate services you should be aware of:

Seasonal Climate Outlook (www.bom.gov.au/climate/ahead) This is a general statement about the likelihood of wetter or drier than normal weather, and warmer or cooler than normal conditions, over a three-month period. The outlook is a probabilistic forecast, so rather than forecasting a rainfall amount or temperature it will give the odds of a certain event occurring. In the case of the rainfall outlook the forecast answers the question "what are the odds that this season will be wetter than normal?" The most recent outlook shows a forecast of 40% chance of above normal rainfall for July through September for most of eastern Australia, in other words there is a 60% chance of drier than normal conditions.

Seasonal climate outlook

Seasonal climate outlook

Climate Data Online (www.bom.gov.au/climate/data) Here you can access daily and historical rainfall and temperature data from any Bureau of Meteorology weather station for any time in that stations history. You can also look up daily and monthly statistics for a weather station, view tables and graphs of the data and download the data in various formats.

Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) web page, including the Weekly Tropical Climate Note (www.bom.gov.au/climate/mjo) This provides information on tropical weather for Australia. The MJO is the major fluctuation in tropical weather on weekly to monthly timescales. The MJO is responsible for the fluctuation of the north Australian monsoon in the wet season and has some impact on winds and temperatures across the north in the dry season. The Weekly Tropical Climate Note is a short (never more than one page) summary of the intra-seasonal (week-to-month) variations in the tropical climate. It includes information about global monsoons (with a focus on the Australian monsoon when it is active), a summary of the MJO, information about El Niño, and a look ahead at the next few weeks. The Weekly Tropical Climate Note is updated weekly, usually on Tuesday afternoons.

Take some time to look at the climate information provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. You can provide feedback on any of the products by sending an e-mail to helpdesk.climate@bom.gov.au .

By knowing what to expect from the climate, you will be less surprised when weather happens.