Drought Exceptional Circumstances Reply

Today I received a reply from CSIRO regarding the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report. I was very pleased that Mr Hennessy expresses an interest in providing the data needed to check the results, and will refrain from further comment until I get the data and analyze it.

—–Original Message—–

From: David Stockwell

Sent: Monday, 7 July 2008 1:56 PM

To: Enquiries

Subject: Exceptional circumstances report supplementary information

Could you please direct this enquiry to the appropriate person.

I am interested in obtaining the supplementary information for the Exceptional Circumstances Report. In particular, I would like to obtain the results for the individual 13 models used in the summary tables 4, 7, and 9. If possible, I would like information on the tests that were conducted to determine the statistical significance of projected increases in % area of temperature, rainfall and soil moisture, supporting such statements as follows:

http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/200807/s2296263.htm

“A new report is predicting a dramatic loss of soil moisture, increased evaporation and reduced ground water levels across much of Australia’s farming regions, as temperatures begin to rise exponentially.”

I also note from the BOM site that the supplementary information is not due to be released until 31 July. Would you please let me know why the detailed information necessary for checking the report has not been released in conjunction with the main report.

Regards

The response was as follows:

Dear David,

Thanks for your enquiry.

Firstly, the report (with typos fixed) and Supplementary Information are available at http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/droughtec/ . I have asked DAFF to provide a link to the Supplementary Information.

Secondly, some of the media reports have misinterpreted the findings of the report. We have little control over this.

Thirdly, the Terms of Reference (Appendix 1) state that “it will be presented in a form that will enable it to be used in future drought policy discussions, including stakeholder consultation”. Our first draft of the report was considered too technical by the client (DAFF), since the target audience is for lay-people, so we had to spend considerable time simplifying the language, diagrams and tables. Therefore, statistical tests and results from individual climate models were not presented.

However, in response to your request, we have undertaken further work. I can confirm that for the mean scenarios:

  • the % area for exceptionally hot years is significant at the 5% level for all regions
  • the return period for exceptionally hot years is significant at the 5% level for all regions
  • the % area for exceptionally low rainfall years is significant at the 5% level in the SW, SW WA and Vic&Tas regions
  • the return period for exceptionally low rainfall years are significant at the 5% level in the SW, SW WA and Vic&Tas regions
  • the % area for exceptionally low soil moisture years is significant at the 5% level in the SW, SW WA, NSW and Vic&Tas regions
  • the return period for exceptionally low soil moisture years cannot be calculated since the “past” sample has only 1 value (for the period 1957-2006)

I have also attached sample plots of individual model results for % area with exceptionally low rainfall years in SW WA. We’d rather not plot any more regions or variables until we know whether this type of plot is of any use to you.

Regards

Kevin Hennessy

Principal Research Scientist

Climate Change Research Group

Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research

A partnership between CSIRO (Marine and Atmospheric Research) and the Bureau of Meteorology

PB1 Aspendale Victoria

Attachment: tes1.JPG

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0 thoughts on “Drought Exceptional Circumstances Reply

  1. Thanks Bob, Most importantly, Mr Hennessy suggests these significance tests were not performed before the report was published. A significance test is needed to determine if the results have any weight of evidence at all. Typically they come with all scientific claims like an increase in droughts etc.

    However, in response to your request, we have undertaken further work.

    Secondly, we do not know what tests were performed. Mine indicate significance for increased drought in only one region, a different result to theirs. Until I get the data and information on the tests, we can’t say much at all, and that information was not supplied.

    That is why I don’t want to go into it much until nest week when I get the data.

  2. Thanks Bob, Most importantly, Mr Hennessy suggests these significance tests were not performed before the report was published. A significance test is needed to determine if the results have any weight of evidence at all. Typically they come with all scientific claims like an increase in droughts etc.

    However, in response to your request, we have undertaken further work.

    Secondly, we do not know what tests were performed. Mine indicate significance for increased drought in only one region, a different result to theirs. Until I get the data and information on the tests, we can’t say much at all, and that information was not supplied.

    That is why I don’t want to go into it much until nest week when I get the data.

  3. I love this classic quote:

    Dear David,

    Secondly, some of the media reports have misinterpreted the findings of the report. We have little control over this.

    Kevin Hennessy
    Principal Research Scientist
    Climate Change Research Group
    Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research
    A partnership between CSIRO (Marine and Atmospheric Research) and the Bureau of Meteorology

    His statement is probably true, but do these government agencies have any responsibility to attempt to attempt to correct misunderstandings ? Does that duty only apply when people aren’t afraid ENOUGH? Too much fear can’t be a bad thing, right ? [last line = sarcasm]

    An audio CSIRO report can be found here with Kevin Hennessy described as a principal research scientist from CSIRO.

    Primary Contact
    Mr Kevin Hennessy
    Scientist
    CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research
    Climate Impacts
    Phone: 61 3 9239 4536
    Alt Phone: 61 4 0167 9748
    Fax: 61 3 9239 4444
    Email: Kevin.Hennessy@csiro.au

    David says the Agriculture Minister [who commissioned the report] called the report a “disaster novel”.

    Read a transcript of one of the Minister’s interviews at his own website . He never mentions computer models.

    • Hmmm….seems to have magically disappeared. Wonder why that is? The linking of EC support with climate change just gets clearer and clearer. This from a government hell bent on dissipating farmers & expunging any record of their existence. Are we so very embarassing? At times a little grubby, but surely not enough to be so ashamed of. Australian agriculture is THE best in the world. Why is KRUDD, like Hawke & Keating before him, so hell bent on getting rid of it?

  4. I love this classic quote:

    Dear David,

    Secondly, some of the media reports have misinterpreted the findings of the report. We have little control over this.

    Kevin Hennessy
    Principal Research Scientist
    Climate Change Research Group
    Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research
    A partnership between CSIRO (Marine and Atmospheric Research) and the Bureau of Meteorology

    His statement is probably true, but do these government agencies have any responsibility to attempt to attempt to correct misunderstandings ? Does that duty only apply when people aren’t afraid ENOUGH? Too much fear can’t be a bad thing, right ? [last line = sarcasm]

    An audio CSIRO report can be found here with Kevin Hennessy described as a principal research scientist from CSIRO.

    Primary Contact
    Mr Kevin Hennessy
    Scientist
    CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research
    Climate Impacts
    Phone: 61 3 9239 4536
    Alt Phone: 61 4 0167 9748
    Fax: 61 3 9239 4444
    Email: Kevin.Hennessy@csiro.au

    David says the Agriculture Minister [who commissioned the report] called the report a “disaster novel”.

    Read a transcript of one of the Minister’s interviews at his own website . He never mentions computer models.

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  6. Maybe I can assist! Remember the Fairburn Dam dry one minute ,over flowing the next!Help Me to Help YOU.Deal or no deal?

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  8. Hmmm….seems to have magically disappeared. Wonder why that is? The linking of EC support with climate change just gets clearer and clearer. This from a government hell bent on dissipating farmers & expunging any record of their existence. Are we so very embarassing? At times a little grubby, but surely not enough to be so ashamed of. Australian agriculture is THE best in the world. Why is KRUDD, like Hawke & Keating before him, so hell bent on getting rid of it?

  9. Hmmm….seems to have magically disappeared. Wonder why that is? The linking of EC support with climate change just gets clearer and clearer. This from a government hell bent on dissipating farmers & expunging any record of their existence. Are we so very embarassing? At times a little grubby, but surely not enough to be so ashamed of. Australian agriculture is THE best in the world. Why is KRUDD, like Hawke & Keating before him, so hell bent on getting rid of it?

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