Recently South West NRM held their “Caravan of Collaborations”, traveling to towns around the region. With them they brought new insight into agricultural practices, including a talk on Climate Change in Australia with Kate Forrest.
Kate Forrest works with the Rangelands NRM Alliance, which is associated with a project that worked with CSIRO scientists, the University of Canberra and Ninti One to develop climate change information and see how it applied in the central part of Australia – the rangelands.
“The project was done in two parts. One was the projections part, or the modelling part. And that was a contract between the Australian government and CSIRO and their projections unit in Melbourne,”
“We worked with those scientists to try and make sure the projections information was developed in a way that was applicable for rangelands,” says Kate.
The report, which can be found here provides the most up to date, comprehensive and robust information available for the Rangelands.
Because the rangelands are so big, and so few people live here, often the information that is provided is at a national scale, but now we are seeing it at a regional scale with the help of this project.
The project has produced report on the following topics:
– Aquatic refugia
– Cenchris cilliaris (Buffel grass)
– Guidance to support adaptation
– Invasive animals
– Meteorological drought
– Native species
– Pastoral production and adaptation
– Rainfall variability and pasture growth
– Remotely sensed ground cover
It draws on date from both international and national resources and Kate says this project has been a good opportunity for farmers to build a working relationship with scientists.
“It is unusual for scientists to be able to talk to them and that meant that the scientists could come in with their information, we could then suggest how they develop it,”
“The implications for climate change on rainfall are unclear, so it was really interesting seeing the Rangelands Scientists interacting with the projection scientists, and talking about how they might represent rainfall,” she says.
The Rangelands NRM Cluster report is a modelling of climate projections for the rangelands, and is based on the current understanding of the climate system, historical trends and simulations of how the climate is responding to the change in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Caravan of Collaboration also showed a video presentation made by Bob Speirs, Climate Change & Environmental Management at The University of Queensland, who discusses the warming of the world.
The Rangeland’s Cluster Project projection is not to be confused with a prediction because the information is not making a forecast of the exact sequence of natural variability.
“It’s not a forecast, and it’s not a prediction, they’re using the trends from current information to see what options there are in the future. So most of the models show that the temperature is going to rise. The confidence from those models comes from how well it sits with the current information,”
“Like any of these issues, you will take a side on it. But this is just information, people can pick and choose how they want to use it. It’s like any other information that a farmer might get – information on a market, or economic information, you get the information you see how it matches to your business and you use it as appropriate,”
“What’s good is that this information is now available to these farmers,” says Kate.
Kate has recently finished up her time with the Caravan of Collaboration and says she received some positive feedback.
“People have been showing interest in how the model is actually used to project the information,”
“The thing about climate change, it’s always in the media and it’s often taking a side. But information isn’t judgemental, it doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. This is just what these scientists think, this is just what they’ve seen, this is what the data they’ve received tells them,” she says.
A lot of the information used for the rangelands cluster itself is actually historical. Most of the information comes from the bureau of meteorology and other scientific organisations.
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