What they really mean is that no part of Australia is officially drought-declared (which enables Federal assistance) and that is somewhat unusual in the great land down-under.
It’s official. Australia’s decade-long drought ended this week. But that doesn’t mean the region is in the clear, warn hydrologists.
“No predictions have been made on the timing of the next drought, but the scientific view is that in the southeast of Australia, we should expect droughts to become more severe and more frequent,” says Bill Young, a leading hydrologist at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.
Young says that elements of the recent drought are consistent with what is expected from an event that is driven by climate change. However, researchers have yet to pin down the exact contribution of greenhouse gas emissions and natural variability in the climate.
Australia’s extremes of drought and flood see-saw with the cycles of the El Niño and La Niña climate oscillation. The warming effect of emissions complicates this cycle, so modelling the overall effect is fraught with uncertainty.
The official end of the “Big Dry” came on Monday when meteorologists declared the country’s two remaining drought-hit areas – Bundarra and Eurobodalla in New South Wales – free of drought.
The Australian government has a water-management plan which aims to ensure that water will be available in times of drought, says Young. This plan will be reviewed in 2015 to deal better with the consequences of climate change.