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« Told you so - Josh 372 | Main | Gav loses it - Josh 371 »
Monday
Apr252016

Parched earth policy

I'm back - after a fashion. I may get back to blogging more regularly in coming days if I can find something to say. Today though, I have a new paper out for GWPF. This is a companion piece to my earlier briefing on precipitation and floods. This one is on drought, heatwaves and conflict. Here's the headline message.

Droughts are not getting worse and they are not causing wars

Claims that droughts are getting worse are not supported in the scientific literature. This is true for both on a global level and for the UK, where historical records indicate much longer and more severe droughts occurred long before human carbon dioxide emissions became significant.

Moreover, claims that “climate change” was behind the conflicts in Darfur and Syria are shown to be based on highly partisan scientific studies that ignore a host of conflicting evidence.

Of course readers here know that papers like the "Drought caused the Syria crisis" one are bunk - I could have written lots more if I'd included all the stuff that has been debunked on the blogs. But there's enough in the peer reviewed literature to kill off this set of disinformation from our green friends.

The briefing is here.

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Reader Comments (103)

Perhaps it's my computer but I'm getting a 404 error.

Apr 25, 2016 at 8:53 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Andrew, the link to the paper (both here and via GWPF's tweet) i.e.

http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2016/04/drought-heatwaves.pdf

doesn't seem to work ... well, at least it doesn't work for me:-(

Apr 25, 2016 at 8:54 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

The link to the GWPF paper works fine for me.

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Works fine for me

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSunderlandsteve

Looks like they've fixed it. Works for me now, too :-)

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:53 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Of course if you do have a drought whether California or India - the answer is Israel

Apr 25, 2016 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

The link worked. Read the paper. Greatly impressed. First thoughts:

'a triumph of hope over empirical evidence'

Time and time again that is supported by this excellent paper. I take the quote seriously – there are people out there who do 'hope' that we are in the midst of sundry climate-linked crises, some manifesting already, others building up in the system to whack us later, The macabre claiming for their own purposes, each and every newsworthy piece of bad weather or related adverse events, is part of this peculiar, profoundly irresponsible behaviour*. Are these people malevolent, or do they merely suffer from feeble personalities and the lack of some constraint that is part of being adult? People like the late Stephen Schneider, or the still with us Tim Flannery for example. They support waves of speculation based on thimbles of evidence – a trend of a few years can do it for them, get them agitated, get them pontificating.

Some rely on their over-worked imaginations to build upon what they suppose must happen there, so that hurricanes must now be more violent and commonplace according to Trenberth. The blatant contradiction with real experts in the field caused him no pause when he rushed to set up a press conference in 2004 to gain maximum advantage from 'a busy hurricane season'.

Secondary commentators like a Monbiot or a McKibben suffer even wider ranges of horrors in their dreams, horrors which they rush to share with the rest of us as if they were prophets with tablets of stone in their arms. While all the time they look weak, hot-headed, and disturbingly volatile or vitriolic. As well as irresponsible.

Thus we see the UK Met Office, CO2 Alarm Division, making the most of whatever happens – snow, no snow, rain, no rain, cooling, warming, floods, droughts, etc etc and claiming it all fits in with how they now see things, just in case reality might become associated with their critics rather than them. Very bad for future funding, that.

So, while this dismal and depressing saga of contrived alarm over our CO2 emissions continues to make a massive nuisance of itself as a 1.5 trillion dollar industry, we have the occasional consolation of papers like this new one from Andrew helping to mark the copybooks and make the situation clear for future historians, as and when they seek to make sense of what will surely look to them like a madness never before seen on such a scale, and for so long.

Consolation would be turned to more like joy if this paper was not only to help future historians, but also inform and mobilise current politicians and commentators in the public eye. We can all help make that a bit more likely by letting others know about it.

*Laframboise notes this at the end of Chapter 28 of her meticulous expose of the IPCC, 'The Delinquent Teenager':
'Invented opinion. Faked evidence. The chapter in which the IPCC discussed natural disasters was not a gold-standard effort. Sub-standard is more like it'. (the term 'gold standard' having been alluded to earlier in her book as a media descriptor of the IPCC as an organisation).

Apr 25, 2016 at 10:41 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Sorry I have to rush, so only time to put this link about non-linear climate catastrophe by Gwynne Dyer which might be a response by alarmists:
http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/opinion/gwynne-dyer-we-may-already-be-in-a-climate-emergency-state-1-7872646

Thoughts?

Apr 25, 2016 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

@Budgie: more alarmism. In reality, having got rid of the excess heat from the late 20th Century, the 9500 year Grand Solar Maximum plus aerosols from Asian industrialisation reducing cloud albedo, the World's oceans are cooling dramatically quickly (already SSTs are back to normal).

So, we are to get 3 years major La Nina cooling and by then we shall also have in SC 25 a no sunspot cycle perhaps to rival the Maunder Minimum. Being as there is virtually zero CO2-AGW, it could be slightly negative, a new Little Ice Age beckons. S Yorkshire should plan for major snowfalls extending to late May, plus a short growing season!

Apr 25, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Welcome back, some of us have been keeping ourselves entertained in the Discussions arena.

Apr 25, 2016 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

"Climate records back to Viking times show the 20th century was unexceptional for rainfall and droughts despite assumptions that global warming would trigger more wet and dry extremes, a study showed on Wednesday.

"Stretching back 1,200 years, written accounts of climate and data from tree rings, ice cores and marine sediments in the northern hemisphere indicated that variations in the extremes in the 20th century were less than in some past centuries.

"Several other centuries show stronger and more widespread extremes," lead author Fredrik Ljungqvist of Stockholm University told Reuters of findings published in the journal Nature. "We can't say it's more extreme now."

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-extremes-idUKKCN0X325Y

Apr 25, 2016 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

Andrew: I haven't had the time to read it yet, but I have no doubt that it is up to your usual impeccably high standard, well-researched and well-referenced.

Apr 25, 2016 at 12:12 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@John Shade: The Wet Office have done all they needed to do, make statements about ALL sorts of weather variations covering all possibilities & combinations, which means whatever happens, they can claim they predicted it would happen. They used to call it the "shot-gun" technique in the old days, meaning if the shot spread is wide enough you're bound to hit something!

Apr 25, 2016 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

A lot of the wars in the pre modern era were climate related. Many wars were the result of massive migrations from the east , triggered by population pressures and the need for more elbow room.
The cause was a benign climate as opposed to a hostile one, good growing conditions as opposed to drought. These massive waves appear to have occurred once every thousand years or so, (though it is known as pre history for obvious reasons)

Apr 25, 2016 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Don't forget you were a great blogger before global warming came along. There's loads of other stuff it's worth hearing you talk about.

Apr 25, 2016 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Here are my climate change predictions bases on my own model (which I won't share with anybody because they might either try and take the credit for it or try and find something wrong with it) and on no data at all beyond vague memories of weather I have experienced and what I remember reading.

1) Some places will have more of some types of weather and less of other types than before.

2) Conversely other places will have less of some types of weather that the first group of places are getting more of, and more of what the first group are getting less of.

3) There will be yet other places where things don't seem noticeably different from what they were in the relatively recent past.

If I am given a steady supply of money from taxpayers I am sure that I can tinker with my model so that in I can produce even more precise predictions for the next decade - in about 12 years' time.

Sorry, I should have written "refine" and not "tinker with" in the last sentence.

Apr 25, 2016 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Welcome back, some of us have been keeping ourselves entertained in the Discussions arena.
How do you spell "entertained" again, Sandy?

Apr 25, 2016 at 1:21 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Budgie: more evidence that the Believers are getting more desperate in their attempts to keep the alarm levels high: “… warming is now accelerating in an unprecedented way.” This, despite no significant warming for nearly 2 decades. Should we have peaked in our warming, and start cooling, I wonder how far permafrost will have to extend before we stop having “The warmest [insert time period here] ever!

Apr 25, 2016 at 1:57 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Roy.
What are your confidence limits? Entropic Man always asks, and it's better to be prepared.
Did you use a bl88dy great computer to get such refinement?

Apr 25, 2016 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Very nice job, Andrew!

Apr 25, 2016 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

It is all about the limits of over confidence, and avoidance of the inclusion of errors, that makes climate science what it is today.

In their much publicised work of 1973/4, Lloyd Webber and Rice detailed how young Joseph was rewarded with an Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, before making life, and known civilization saving pronouncements about the variable Egyptian climate for the following 20 years. Based on this success, he was richly rewarded.

Climate science has the monochrome Hockey Stick, artificially enhanced with multiple fabricated colours, for which climate scientists have been richly rewarded ever since, despite never being right about anything.

Could Montford 'Team-Up' with Lloyd Webber and Rice, to write a modern precautionary sequel, that could be performed in schools around the world, to educate children and adults, about the calamities that befall those who believe in fake pronouncements from false prophets of doom?

Note that the original Lloyd Webber and Rice work continues to pass Peer Review, receives highly critical acclaim, and has been commercially successful. The remains of the Hockey Stick can't even be refabricated into a Climate Science grave marker.

Apr 25, 2016 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

RR
Have you seen Matt Ridley's article in today's Times?
Krebs and a handful of other peers apparently wrote to the editor complaining about "two articles about studies by mainstream academics in the scientific literature, which provided less than alarming assessments of climate change."
The letter was also leaked to the Guardian at the same time.
Matt also reckons our friend Richard Black had a hand in it. Now there's a surprise!
It's worth a read if it turns up on his blog or on the GWPF site.

Apr 25, 2016 at 4:08 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Alan.

There is no limit to my confidence in my predictions. How could I possibly hope to get money from the government if even I did not believe in the predictions? I did think of using my laptop for runs of my model but it seemed easier to use an old glass vase as a crystal ball. It has the advantage that I cannot share the algorithm with anybody - unless, of course, they offer to buy the vase for a price that would make sellers of Ming vases green with envy.

Apr 25, 2016 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I have no doubt that it is up to your usual impeccably high standard, well-researched and well-referenced.

Yay! Future historians will no doubt find it a remarkable document indeed. Chock full of meticulously-sourced assertions such as

Nearly ten years after Tim Flannery told Australians that the great cities of Australia were about to run permanently dry, the desalination plants that were built in response stand as monuments ...

Apr 25, 2016 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Drought in Syria and Iraq

Nothing to with Turkey damming the Tigress and Euthratees rivers for Hydro Electric then.

The Iraqi Parliment have been complaining about it to the Americans and the U N since the invasion.

Apr 25, 2016 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Panorama tonight 7 30 "Is British Steel Worth Saving" Redundant Indusrty propped up by millions of tax payers cash.

Bishophill tonight at 7 31 "Is the BBC worth saving" Redundant industry propped up by millions of tax payers cash.

Apr 25, 2016 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBish theres plenty to talk about

Roy. Good science can be replicated by others (unless you hide the data). Your system has the additional advantage that not only can't interfering busy bodies (wanting to prove you wrong) replicate your valuable results, but there is no data for them to issue FoI demands about.

When do you graduate from long range weather to the much more lucrative climate predictions? What do you think you might use? A linked set of wine glasses perhaps, or a chandelier?

Apr 25, 2016 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Bish theres plenty to talk about: "Is the BBC worth saving" Redundant industry propped up by millions of tax payers cash."

I said it would just be a BBC hatchet job but my wife insisted. I left the room when it got to the "BBC load of academics brought in to pretend to listen, but instead only there to use the plight of steel workers to push BBC/academic political bias at their gullible audience"

In my view, the best way to have saved the steel industry would have been to shut down the BBC and all its anti-industry propaganda (dressed up as concern for the planet)

Apr 25, 2016 at 7:54 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Phil C,
So what are you getting at?
You've got to admit that Flannery was completely wrong!

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterdavid smith

Re Apr 25, 2016 at 10:41 AM | Registered Commenter John Shade

"Then there is hope. But hope is not a strategy".. Chiefio

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

david smith, I think that Phil Clarke was referring to the fact that in the event of a world sea salt shortage, with these desalination plants having nothing else to do, Australia has the ability to extract as much salt from the sea, as any island surrounded by the sea, could hope for.

That is one of the greatest success stories of climate science, and needs to be recognised as such.

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Yes, nice diversionary tactic there, Phil. Up to your usual standard and down at your usual level.
Anything in the actual paper you can find fault with, no? There are three or four typos and a spelling mistake you could have picked up which are just about as relevant as your comment.
Oh, I forgot. It's by Montford so you won't bother reading it. Silly me!

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:34 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Have now read it. Well done. Very well done.

Apr 25, 2016 at 9:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

So what are you getting at?
You've got to admit that Flannery was completely wrong!

Two points: Flannery at no point said anything that resembles Montford's paraphrasing. Secondly Montford is relying on Andrew Bolt's representation of Flannery's position. Bolt does not qualify as a reliable source on anything. Scholarship this ain't.

One wonders why the author felt constrained to include this dross. Faute de mieux?

Apr 25, 2016 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Across the metropolitan area, the one-third full dams are slightly up on last year, but only because Perth's second, much-needed desalination plant has come on line at Binningup, in the state's southwest, and is topping up the dams, which are increasingly becoming reservoirs for water sourced from elsewhere. It's a radical change from the 1970s, when most of Perth's drinking water came from the sky.

In response to long-term declining rainfall, Perth's Water Corporation, Western Australia's main water supplier, has been moving away from its reliance on dams, and is now planning to move away from reliance on the Gnangara mound, a surface groundwater system made up of four main aquifers beneath Perth's coastal plain.
By December, Perth will get almost half its water from desalination, easing pressure on aquifers -- which recharge wetlands and lakes -- while also easing the likelihood of further water restrictions ….

The Australian Oct 2010

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/dam-buster-water-works/story-e6frg6z6-1226486889226

Perth still relies on desalinated water, and the desalination plants now taken offline are in effect, an insurance policy against a repeat of the drought conditions of 1995-2009

Strange alternate universe, where billions of capital expenditure are ordered on the basis of an interview in an inflight magazine. I mean, really- I get postmodernism but enough is enough.

Apr 25, 2016 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke, copied from Wikipedia, is this list of 19th Century Australian droughts

1803 Drought in NSW that produced severe crop failures.
1809 Beginning of an unusually severe drought in NSW that continued until 1811.
1813−15 Severe drought in NSW that prompted searches for new pastures.
1826−29 Severe drought in NSW that caused Lake George to dry up and the Darling River to cease flowing.[6]

Since 1860, when adequate meteorological recording commenced, the most severe droughts have occurred commonly at intervals of 11 to 14 years. Major droughts that were recorded later in the 19th century include:

1829 Major drought in Western Australia with very little water available.
1835 and 1838 Sydney and NSW receive 25% less rain than usual. Severe drought in Northam and York areas of Western Australia.
1838−39 Droughts in South Australia and Western Australia
1839 Severe drought in the west and north of Spencer Gulf, South Australia
1846 Severe drought converted the interior and far north of South Australia into an arid desert.
1849 Sydney received about 27 inches less rain than normal.
1850 Severe drought, with big losses of livestock across inland New South Wales (NSW) and around the western rivers region.
1864−66 (and 1868). The little data available indicates that this drought period was rather severe in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
1877 All States affected by severe drought, with disastrous losses in Queensland. In Western Australia many native trees died, swamps dried up and crops failed.
1880 to 1886 Drought in Victoria (northern areas and Gippsland); New South Wales (mainly northern wheat belt, Northern Tablelands and south coast); Queensland (1881–86, in south-east with breaks – otherwise mainly in coastal areas, the central highlands and central interior in 1883–86); and South Australia (1884–86, mainly in agricultural areas).
1888 Extremely dry in Victoria (northern areas and Gippsland); Tasmania (1887–89 in the south); New South Wales had the driest year since records began; Queensland (1888–89) had a very severe drought, with much native scrub dying and native animals perishing; South Australia had one of its most severe droughts; and Western Australia (central agricultural areas) lost many sheep.[8]1897 Drought in much of Queensland, compared to 1883-4 droughts.[9]

Was all of this caused by global warming? Obviously the human population, plus their introduced livestock and industry required a lot less water back in the 19th century. Why do you think 21st century water shortages are a consequence of global warming?

Apr 26, 2016 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf Charlie

"Was all of this caused by global warming? Obviously the human population, plus their introduced livestock and industry required a lot less water back in the 19th century."

Interesting that the most dry sheep equivalents were achieved in the Queensland rangelands BEFORE the 1897-1902 drought period.

Apr 26, 2016 at 3:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

Another Ian.
What's a dry sheep eqivalent?
Mutton jerky?

Apr 26, 2016 at 6:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

got charlie:

In between times farming went on. In South Australia wheat farming spread north almost to the shores of lake Eyre. The current 'wisdom' then was that "rain follow the plough", this despite the Surveyor General Goyder mapping what areas they should use. From 1889 to 1914 (with a couple of years good seasons in between) there was The Federation Drought. Entire towns disappeared including the second biggest in SA (Willochra). The C of E bishop of Willochra had just been appointed (and is still to this day) but the town went. At least 15,000. By the mid 1920's there were 6 people left and they were all gone by 1945.

Wheat growing moved south by 200 miles, but Goyer's Line is still marked on maps as a warning.

Apr 26, 2016 at 6:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Re Perth climate

I originally (casually) accept the idea of global warming b/c the climate here (west Scotland) has definitely changed in the last 50 years.It has become more maritime (wetter, cool summers and mild winters) for whatever reason. I'm sure a lot of places have similarly changed weather patterns.

I stopped believing in it when 2 climate scientists at UMIST swept aside my naive scepticism by describing the huge number of complex, interacting variables involved in their research. I asked 'can computers model this complexity' ?

No.

Apr 26, 2016 at 6:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorrissey McSmiffFace

Graeme no 3.
Surveys cannot always be relied upon.

The whole of the Canadian prairies (Palliser's Triangle) was condemned as being too dry for wheat. Now it constitutes part of the world's biggest bread basket. Development of new drought resistant strains made it possible. Also possible is that Palliser's survey took place during a pronounced dry period.

Apr 26, 2016 at 7:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

@Phil Clarke: my son, who lives in Perth WA, designed the piping systems for the three big Oz desal plants. Perth rainfall, hasn't changed much recently, an average of 0.75 m, 30 inches per year; far higher than Eastern England.

My son's father in law lives near the Harris Dam, and that is reasonably full.

Apr 26, 2016 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Google "Core of my Heart(my country)" by Dorothea Mackellar ,written in 1908 and I think any further comment is superfluous.

Apr 26, 2016 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Tolson

“Strange alternate universe, where billions of capital expenditure are ordered on the basis of an interview in an inflight magazine. I mean, really …”.
==================================
I know Phil it’s hard to believe but politicians at the time were so beguiled by the bearded prophet of doom that they made incredibly stupid and profoundly damaging decisions based of the assumption propagated by Flannery that the drought of the late ‘90s was indicative of a continuing trend whereas the only area of the country with a significant long-term rainfall deficit currently is the extreme SW of Western Australia:
http://www.bom.gov.au/web01/ncc/www/cli_chg/trendmap/rain/0112/aus/1900/latest.gif
One politician at the time of note is John Thwaites the responsible minister in Victoria who was quoted as pushing for a desal plant because: ‘building dams won’t make it rain’. He retired from politics and ‘vanished’ for the term of an incoming conservative government but now with the return of the ALP has re-emerged to actually head Melbourne Water — the man responsible for the most outrageous continuing waste of public money in the state’s history.
Incidentally a supervisor at the boondoggle construction site is now doing time for cocaine importation, apparently the workers couldn’t believe their luck and spent much of the time in a cocaine and amphetamine haze:
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/former-supervisor-at-victorias-desalination-plant-jailed-for-importing-marketable-quantity-of-cocaine-20151008-gk5098.html

Apr 26, 2016 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Was all of this caused by global warming? Obviously the human population, plus their introduced livestock and industry required a lot less water back in the 19th century. Why do you think 21st century water shortages are a consequence of global warming?

Those were examples of single dry years, or relatively short dry periods, the longest being six years. The 'Millenium Drought', depending on the definition used, lasted 14 or 18 years : glad to see wiki has been rehabilitated as a source:

The 2000s drought in Australia, also known as the Millennium drought(official),[1] is said by some to be the worst recorded since settlement.[2] The year 2006 was the driest on record for many parts of the country. The drought began in 1995 and continued Australia wide until late 2009 with the final areas in drought ceasing to be eligible in early May 2012.[3][4] With the official end of the drought declared in 2012, the Federal Government had provided $4.5 billion in drought assistance.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000s_Australian_drought

Attribution is difficult, there are many factors other than AGW in play, ENSO and other large scale oscillations, however some studies do find that greenhouse warming was at least partially behind the drought.

Apr 26, 2016 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

WA wheat yields have, along with plant growth in other dry areas, rocketed. It's because higher [CO2] reduces necessary stomata diameter for given CO2 transport, therefore reduces transpiration. However, reduced water loss also means damper soil, and other flora and fauna thrive, in turn causing higher regional [CCN], more clouds.

More clouds, higher local albedo, is a strong negative feedback. The oceans have similar negative feedbacks. The net result is that the planet self controls, reducing CO2 climate sensitivity for purely radiative equilibrium from ~0.85 K to near zero. (Positive feedback from higher RH n the climate models is an artefact of their incorrect aerosol optical physics.)

Apr 26, 2016 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

@Phil Clarke: Australia's weather is detemined by the 38 year (2x19) lunar solar interaction.

Apr 26, 2016 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

the drought of the late ‘90s was indicative of a continuing trend whereas the only area of the country with a significant long-term rainfall deficit currently is the extreme SW of Western Australia

Nobody could accuse you of drawing conclusions from a too-short trend, but just maybe a >100yr trend is not that relevant? As you cited BOM:

The past three years have seen the return of widespread rainfall deficiencies across southern and eastern Australia (Figure 1). Below-average rainfall across large parts of Australia since the end of the 2010 and 2011 La Niña events, and the failure of the northern wet season in much of inland Queensland over the past three years, have contributed to these deficiencies (see the latest issue of the Bureau's Drought Statement for more information).

These deficiencies re-emerge against a background of significant longer-term rainfall decline over southern Australia which has now persisted for decades. The southwest of Western Australia has experienced a 10 to 20 per cent drop in winter rainfall since around 1970—that has been expressed as a step-change or series of step-changes, rather than a gradual decline. This period also includes an absence of high rainfall years that were common prior to that period. The southeast of the continent has experienced a similar decline in late autumn and early winter rainfall since around the mid-1990s (see the State of the Climate 2014 for more information). These rainfall changes have been accompanied by much larger reductions in streamflow, particularly in the southwest.

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a010-southern-rainfall-decline.shtml

The rainfall deficiencies in southern Australia at periods up to 42 months are also evident on much longer timescales. The map of rainfall deficiencies for the past 16 years shows record low rainfall over most of southwest Western Australia, with serious to severe deficiencies widespread in northern and central Victoria, neighbouring parts of South Australia and New South Wales, and northern and western Tasmania. Patchy deficiencies are also evident in Queensland, most notably in western parts of the Darling Downs.

The affected regions typically receive significant rainfall during the period from autumn through spring from cold fronts and low pressure systems. However, Australia has experienced a substantial decrease in this activity over recent decades, as high pressure systems have become more dominant. This suggests the tendency for recurrent dry conditions is less related to variations such as El Niño, and more due to other changes in the climate system. Research suggests that long-term drying trends over southern Australia cannot be explained by natural variability alone.

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/

Both pages worth reading in full, BTW.

Apr 26, 2016 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

"Both pages worth reading in full, BTW …".
===============================================
Instead of cutting and pasting slabs of words go to the BOM page Climate change > time series and you will see with your very own eyes there is only one region with a declining rainfall namely the South West ..... over.

Apr 26, 2016 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

"however some studies do find that greenhouse warming was at least partially behind the drought"
This can also be worded as "most studies find no connection between greenhouse warming and the drought." Such as...

"The “Millennium Drought” (2001–2009) can be described as the worst drought on record for southeast Australia. Adaptation to future severe droughts requires insight into the drivers of the drought and its impacts. These were analyzed using climate, water, economic, and remote sensing data combined with biophysical modeling. Prevailing El Niño conditions explained about two thirds of rainfall deficit in east Australia. Results for south Australia were inconclusive; a contribution from global climate change remains plausible but unproven. Natural processes changed the timing and magnitude of soil moisture, streamflow, and groundwater deficits by up to several years, and caused the amplification of rainfall declines in streamflow to be greater than in normal dry years. By design, river management avoided impacts on some categories of water users, but did so by exacerbating the impacts on annual irrigation agriculture and, in particular, river ecosystems. Relative rainfall reductions were amplified 1.5–1.7 times in dryland wheat yields, but the impact was offset by steady increases in cropping area and crop water use efficiency (perhaps partly due to CO2 fertilization). Impacts beyond the agricultural sector occurred (e.g., forestry, tourism, utilities) but were often diffuse and not well quantified. Key causative pathways from physical drought to the degradation of ecological, economic, and social health remain poorly understood and quantified. Combined with the multiple dimensions of multiyear droughts and the specter of climate change, this means future droughts may well break records in ever new ways and not necessarily be managed better than past ones."
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wrcr.20123/full

Pessimistic guesswork remains just guesswork and pretending a maybe is a probable is unscientific!

Apr 26, 2016 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

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